Glasgow council fears uncollected rubbish could pose ‘significant fire risk’ amid strike

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Since the start of the climate summit on October 31, some Glaswegians have seen their rubbish collection and street cleaning interrupted. GMB union members have initiated a strike among service workers to protest against a pay dispute with council umbrella body Cosla.

GMB Scotland organiser Keir Greenaway said its members were striking “because they have been paid so poorly and treated so badly for too long”.

“Where is Glasgow’s political leadership? The silence is absolutely deafening from the council leader Susan Aitken, and she should either step up or step aside,” he added.

Facing the lack of collection, the Glasgow council has confirmed on Thursday that it was considering bringing in a private contractor to minimise the “significant fire risk” posed by the combination of Bonfire Night celebrations and uncollected rubbish.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) said that if people created their own refuse bonfires there was a risk of “uncontrolled fire spread.”

Workforce convener councillor Allan Casey said: “As it does every year, Bonfire Night poses a significant fire risk.

“The risk to public safety increases considerably if uncollected rubbish is a factor, particularly at certain types of domestic properties.

“What officers are considering is a specific cover to mitigate these risks.

“It’s not about contractors fulfilling the regular duties of striking staff.

“We would rather this cover could be provided by non-striking council staff and if the GMB could give us that reassurance so Glasgow residents are not put at unacceptable risk then clearly the use of contractors will not be necessary.”

Roddie Keith, the senior officer for the SFRS in Glasgow, said he “strongly advised” against residents lighting a bonfire to dispose of waste.

“There is a risk of uncontrolled fire spread.

“Some material within domestic waste may be highly flammable or can even explode and the smoke emitted can result in wider damage to the environment,” he added.

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“All bonfires are dangerous so we are also asking everyone to ensure that those in their household, including the young people in their lives, are aware of the consequences of setting a fire.”

Council and union bosses met on Wednesday in a bid to try to solve the dispute over pay and conditions.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “The GMB has left us with no option but to explore contingency plans to tackle the unfolding public health and potential fire hazards that are part of the impact the strike is having on our city.

“This is not an action we consider lightly and if we were to go ahead with this it would be the first time since 2009.

“We can’t have rubbish piling up – especially when the union keeps changing the duration of the strike.

“On Sunday they told us the strike would last two or three days, today they told us eight days.”

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