Dundee’s bin men say they are struggling to cope as staff levels have reportedly halved due to the coronavirus crisis.
They are also concerned that, in addition to stress in covering for colleagues, they cannot comply with the government’s guidelines on keeping two metres away from others.
The lack of refuse collectors has also led to fears that the city’s streets will eventually overflow with waste from unemptied bins.
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Unite shop steward in the environmental department, George Barr confirmed up to half the usual refuse staff were currently off work.
George said: “We have been left very understaffed and there is now far too much work for the remaining staff to do.
“Workers are either self-isolating or are staying at home because they have underlying conditions.
“This is perfectly understandable, but for those who remain conditions are tough”
He added: “Also, because of conditions in bin lorry cabs, workers are forced to be 6ins apart rather than the two metres required.
“We need to have a driver and two operatives on the lorry to do the job properly. We tried with just the driver and one operative but that wasn’t viable, so we have had to resort to two and the driver. That means we are sitting very closely together, which is adding to stress and anxiety.”.”
Meanwhile, one Dundee resident told the Tele he had been advised by Dundee City Council that bin emptying would just have to happen “as and when” for the foreseeable future.
The resident – who lives in Coldside, and asked to remain anonymous – said that he contacted the council on Tuesday after a Eurobin in Hepburn Street wasn’t emptied on its usual day.
The resident said: “The bin was full to overflowing and it wasn’t emptied. When I phoned the council I was told that half the bin men were off, and that emptying would be carried out when possible.”
Councillor Mark Flynn, who represents Coldside, said: “There are going to be delays but the council is doing everything it can to carry out work as normal.
“Health and safety is a priority, but we are asking people to be patient and while there may be some delays we are putting contingency plans in place. Staff are doing a fantastic job in difficult circumstances.”
A council spokesman said: “These are unprecedented times globally and while we are working hard to ensure refuse collections can go ahead, Covid-19 is causing disruption to services.
“All separate food waste collections have been suspended to allow prioritisation of general waste collections. We would ask all householders to combine food waste with their general waste rather than presenting their kitchen caddies.
“Bulky waste collections have also been suspended. Further changes to waste services may take place and services may be suspended at short notice, due to high absence rates.
“Council staff are working hard to deliver services to the people of Dundee in the face of major challenges and we would ask people for their patience and understanding at what is obviously a difficult time for everyone.”
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