Let’s not be held to ransom by bin strikes - Iain Whyte

Edinburgh residents, businesses and visitors deserve a clean August, says Iain WhyteEdinburgh residents, businesses and visitors deserve a clean August, says Iain Whyte
Edinburgh residents, businesses and visitors deserve a clean August, says Iain Whyte
As national politics dominates during the General Election only the more eagle-eyed Evening News readers will have spotted the threat of bin strikes raising their mucky head for Festival time in August.

So far, the Labour council, always keen to pander to the unions, has been silent on this shocking situation that could see vermin attracting rubbish pile up in the streets again, just like in 2022.

Maybe due to the council recess the council leader is unusually quiet and his transport and environment convener was obviously in full election mode.

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Our bin men and women have always been among our more militant union members with “unofficial action” already disrupting bin collections to residents’ inconvenience in June.

It shouldn’t be like this. The answer is to contract out the service. Far-left council colleagues will shriek but this has been supported by the Edinburgh public in previous consultations to solve budget cuts.

Instead, the left want to bring even more services “in-house” at huge cost and with a far greater chance of industrial action. These strikes come because of council funding problems, difficult Scotland-wide pay negotiations or because the unions want to test the nerve of politicians and management.

There are two stories I’ve always remembered about bin services over the years.

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The first was a senior London councillor who told me that “even the Labour councils in London contract out as they all know it’s far cheaper and more efficient”. And I’ve seen this for myself in Labour-run Greenwich when my partner lived there.

The second story was from a very senior person in Edinburgh City Council who assured me that during the bin strike in 2009 the cost of bringing in a contractor, even on emergency rates, was less than the pay saved during the strike.

Edinburgh residents, businesses and visitors deserve a clean August and a better service all year round. Let’s not be held to ransom.

If it’s better, cheaper and has more certainty of delivery we should ask someone else to do the job. As usual I won’t hold my breath – unless I’m near a bin during a strike.

Iain Whyte is Conservative councillor for Inverleith