Edinburgh bin strike: Why plastic Marxists' complaints that tidying up was strike-breaking were ridiculous – John McLellan

Scabs! Even picking up a sweetie paper ran the risk of strike-breaking accusations as passions simmered amidst the mounting piles of rotting rubbish on Edinburgh’s streets.
Vandals targetted Biddy Milligans pub in Edinburgh's Grassmarket (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)Vandals targetted Biddy Milligans pub in Edinburgh's Grassmarket (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)
Vandals targetted Biddy Milligans pub in Edinburgh's Grassmarket (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)

Worst of all was the vandalism of Biddy Mulligan’s pub because staff had the temerity to try to keep their little bit of the Old Town clean for their customers during the waste workers stoppage, but social media was alive with fury at the slightest suggestion of anyone trying to deal with the growing health hazard.

For some reason, the Grassmarket graffiti artists did not make their way to Bute House where First Minister Nicola Sturgeon not only has ultimate control of the purse-strings which can settle the dispute but is also the beneficiary of a private refuse contractor.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Essential Edinburgh, the business improvement organisation to which New Town and West End companies pay an extra levy to keep their area spick and span, received pelters from keyboard warriors even though trade waste is not handled by council staff. If only the Old Town had such a scheme.

It got to the stage where practical proposals to deal with a health emergency, such as those tabled and accepted by the city’s Conservative group, were attacked as an unacceptable attempt to beat the strike.

Apparently beyond the pale was the proposal for non-waste staff to help with the clear-up, as if leaving rotting food and dog waste on the streets as long as possible is a positive contribution to industrial relations.

Read More
Edinburgh bin strike: Pictures show major clean-up operation as workers return a...

Even just entering the City Chambers if a protest is going on outside is seen as an affront to the strikers, the most preposterous of the wannabe revolutionaries being Leith Green councillor Chas Booth (whose default level of sanctimony makes Pope Francis sound like Jerry Sadowitz) in attacking Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative councillors for attending a licensing meeting.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Unfortunately for him, the posturing rebounded when it resulted in a social media pile-on to condemn the hypocrisy of his participation by video.

The supposed ideological purity of these extremists is the political equivalent of rigid Sabbatarianism, where keeping your part of the world tidy is an insult to struggling workers just as going to the shops on a Sunday is an affront to God.

So where does public-spiritedness end and scabbing begin? Is taking your rubbish home and putting it in your landfill bin really that different to bar staff sweeping up outside their pub?

And when, as is highly likely, strike action spreads to schools, is home schooling the act of a responsible parent or is someone who wants to minimise the impact on their kids undermining the industrial action?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Supporting low-paid workers struggling to make ends meet isn’t the same as just accepting you must wade knee-deep through garbage to do your job, or that you have to tolerate a risk to your livelihood because public sector unions are flexing their muscle.

Without the benefit of any price controls, the energy crisis threatens to wipe out thousands of small businesses and the jobs they support, and 77.8 per cent of workers are in the private sector. As much as it might pain the plastic Marxists, the economy relies on a thriving private sector to generate the taxes to keep the public sector afloat.

Anything which harms legitimate trade ultimately harms us all.