Edinburgh bin strikes: Fears of 'massive surge' in rat infestations

·3 min read
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 29: Members of the public walk past a large piles of rubbish on August 29, 2022 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Bin collections have been suspended in the Scottish capital for 10 days as waste workers have been on strike. Normal shifts will resume tomorrow here, but 13 more Scottish councils are scheduled to begin similar strike action on Wednesday. A second wave of waste-worker strikes in Edinburgh is scheduled from September 7-13, unless there's progress in talks between unions and local authorities. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Piles of rubbish have lined the streets of Edinburgh after a strike by waste workers in the city. (Getty Images)

A pest controller has warned of rats invading homes and businesses in Edinburgh following bin strikes across the city.

Unions launched industrial action on 18 August in the middle of the annual Edinburgh Festival in a pay dispute with local government body Cosla.

They had been seeking an offer similar to the one made to council workers in England - which included a £1,925 flat rate pay increase.

But when the offer was not matched, Edinburgh workers began the first of a series of strikes around Scotland.

The action escalated last week when refuse workers at a further 20 local authorities walked out, despite an offer of a 5% rise.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 30: Refuse workers begin a major clear up in Edinburgh after a first wave of strikes ended at 04:59 on August 30, 2022 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The workers had been on strike since August 18, resulting in piles of rubbish across the city. Many residents  will not have all their waste collected before the next round of strikes on September 6. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Refuse collectors rejected a 5% pay increase. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Vikki Cavanagh, who runs Tae a Moose pest controllers, told Radio 4's Today programme: "I think the calls will start to increase quite massively once all the rubbish in the city starts to get cleared up.

"So as the bin men start to go back and the streets become cleaner we will start to see the rodents look for alternative food sources, so rather than being out on the streets they will start to go into residential properties, or businesses for that matter, for that other food source."

Workers in 13 areas, including Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee, are still on strike until Wednesday.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 30: A bird scavenges among waste bags on August 30, 2022 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Refuse workers begin a major clear up in Edinburgh after a first wave of strikes ended at 04:59. The workers had been on strike since August 18, resulting in piles of rubbish across the city. Many residents will not have all their waste collected before the next round of strikes on September 6. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Birds and rodents have scavenged from rubbish bags in Edinburgh, but now experts feel rats may move inside to find food.(Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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Scott Arthur, transport and environment convener at the City of Edinburgh Council, said that the refuse collectors, who were recognised as key workers during the pandemic, have not been offered the same deal as their English counterparts.

He said: "These are the key workers who kept the city on its feet right the way through lockdown and they barely missed a collection over that period.

Edinburgh's waste workers clearing mountains of rubbish as they return to work following their 11 days of industrial action. The city's waste workers walked out on August 18 as part of a pay protest against local government. Picture date: Tuesday August 30, 2022. (Photo by Lesley Martin/PA Images via Getty Images)
Edinburgh's waste workers began clearing mountains of rubbish as they returned to work on Monday following 11 days of industrial action. (PA Images via Getty Images)

"Some are very low paid so they deserve a fair pay rise to help them over the cost of living crisis."

Arthur said the "fundamental reason" the Scottish government's offer of a 5% pay rise isn't being accepted is that it doesn't equal that offered to workers in England.

He said that English workers were being offered £1,925 pounds extra per year, but the offer in Scotland was only a one-off, labelling the move "insulting".

He added: "The Scottish councils are setting aside 3% to pay these workers, all we are asking is that the Scottish government equals that."

Watch: Clean-up operation begins in Edinburgh after bin strike ends