Local anti-cuts groups have declared that Edinburgh Council are responsible for the deteriorating service in refuse collection, and the blame should be put firmly on the Councillors and top management, not the binmen and other workers.

The groups denounce the “back door privatisation” of Edinburgh Council services and have demanded a response from Council leader Andrew Burns. North Edinburgh Fights Back and Greater Leith Against the Cuts condemn the large-scale use of agency staff in Street Cleansing and Refuse Collection – and state that the new switch to fortnightly collections appears to be motivated by cost-cutting not environmental concern.

“We are in favour of reducing waste and increasing recycling but we suspect the move to fortnightly collections is not motivated by ecology but is part of the cut-backs. We are closely monitoring its impact and are consulting with local people if action needs to be taken to restore the weekly collections.”

The groups also denounce the imposition of “anti social shift patterns” on the workforce, arguing that the continuation of work until 10.30pm will cause disruption and nuisance to residents, particularly children, the elderly and vulnerable. “Refuse collection workers have told management the new shift patterns would not work,” say the community groups, “but as usual the CEC management aren’t listening to the people who really know the job.”

“We are totally opposed to the privatisation of public services and the cuts in services and worsening working conditions this invariably entails,” the two groups declare. “The full Council voted against privatising these services – why are they now doing the complete opposite, and bringing in large numbers of Blue Arrow contractors to both Street Cleansing and Refuse Collection? New workers – who are certainly needed – should be taken on as full Council employees, wherever possible with permanent contracts.”

“Contrary to some claims, Blue Arrow were NOT introduced to deal with the current backlog, dozens of Blue Arrow staff have been operating from the Russell Road depot in refuse collection since March, and Blue Arrow have been deployed from Cowans Close depot in street cleansing since July. What’s more the private firm Enterprise were used in street cleansing in the spring.”


A Shop Steward from within Environmental Services said:

“I have repeatedly voiced my concerns at the use of agency staff to City of Edinburgh Council Senior Management at numerous meetings since the elected members rejected Privatisation and also to various elected members all to no avail; unfortunately it appears that this new administration is also listening to the officials who are now intent on privatising our council/public services through the back door. ”
The community groups explain they are awaiting a response from the Council. “We have written to Councillor Burns demanding an end to this back door privatisation. He has yet to reply. However Councillor Hynds has written to say she has commissioned a report on the matter from Director of
Services for Communities Mark Turley. We eagerly await this and urge its early delivery.”