Bid to put end to Edinburgh bin men’s early finishes

City leaders are holding talks over the practice. Picture: Ian Georgeson.
City leaders are holding talks over the practice. Picture: Ian Georgeson.
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CITY leader Andrew Burns said today the local authority was working to scrap a controversial working practice that sees some bin men able to finish their shifts hours early.

A private council document leaked to the Evening News earlier this month revealed refuse staff were finishing their shifts up to four hours early while the Capital’s streets pile up with litter.

It exposed how a long-standing practice known as “task and finish” meant bin men were going home after completing their usual route, instead of working until the end of their contracted shift. This caused “unsafe working practices” as staff rushed to finish early, it stated.

Councillor Burns told the News that officials were “looking to end the practice with the help of the trade unions” – with meetings expected to take place next week.

It is understood talks have been taking place between city leaders and union staff about the practice, which many think is outdated.

The internal document given to the News said an ongoing “service review” would provide an opportunity to get rid of “task and finish” and reform the service.

But Cllr Burns’ statement is the clearest sign yet that city bosses are determined to bring task and finish to an end.

The city leader, who previously announced he will step down next year, also admitted the state of the city’s streets and overflowing bins during August had “clearly” been an issue.

But he pointed out 500,000 people had visited the Capital over the festival – an annual influx equivalent to the World Cup being held in Edinburgh every year.

Around 60 per cent more litter is collected in August, he said, with 26 million waste collections across the city annually.

More rubbish is also being recycled, saving the city £1.1 million in landfill costs. The council is currently charged £84.40 per tonne of landfill waste.

Cllr Burns said: “We now have 45 per cent of our waste stream getting recycled.

“It needs to be better than that – our coalition target is 50 per cent – but we have seen significant progress. Just in the last year it’s gone up by three per cent.”

The council was inundated with 53,862 complaints about missed or overflowing bin collections between July 2015 and July this year – an average of one every ten minutes right through the day and night.

A move to privatise the city’s bins service was abandoned in 2011 in the face of union opposition.

Cllr Burns’ comments come on the back of the Evening News’ ongoing Bin Watch campaign.

We are appealing for your pictures and examples to help combat the growing scourge of overflowing bins.

Our drive has so far highlighted a number of problem hotspots across the Capital – from South Queensferry to Leith Walk and Sciennes.

Send us your images and tip-offs on Facebook and Twitter, or call us on 0131-311 7538. You can also email newsen@edinburghnews.com