Glasgow cleansing workers could down tools once again as they continue to face rats “jumping out of bins” in back courts.
Video footage has shown several rats emerging from a blue bin as a worker tries to empty it beside a children’s slide in a back court at 60 Kelvinhaugh Street.
A worker is seen kicking the bin and standing back as the rats jump out and scurry away. But the staff member is still left startled when he lifts the lid of the bin and one remaining rat leaps out.
GMB union convenor Chris Mitchell says that workers can refuse to work on the grounds of health and safety and warns it is a matter of time before a resident or staff member is seriously hurt.
Glasgow City Council says that staff have not issued a complaint in relation to Kelvinhaugh Street and a supervisor attended the site and found no issues.
The council’s pest control team is still expected to attend and will take “appropriate action.”
Chris said: “It’s not nice for the workers who are emptying the bins first thing in the morning to have rats jumping out on top of them. You do become accustomed to it but they shouldn’t have to face this every day.
“We used to spot rats a couple of times a week but we see them every day now. Workers are having to kick bins to make sure nothing jumps out at them. The rats are everywhere, we just can’t get away from them.
“We need to beat this. Rubbish needs to be disposed of properly and bins need to be emptied regularly.
“There has got to be a crisis plan in place as this is becoming a public nuisance.
“If we don’t deal with it someone is going to be seriously hurt, whether that be one of our members or a member of the public.”
He added: “Environmental health is obviously overloaded with work, they can’t cope. We are continuing to work out of courtesy to the general public but we are putting ourselves at risk.
“At one point we are going to have to take a stance and say to the council that we are no longer willing to go into these rat-infested areas until they deal with it. Under health and safety guidelines we can withdraw our labour altogether.”
Chris pointed out the rodents are entering different types of bins.
Chris said: “The funny thing is, they are actually in recycling bins now. It is not just the green or domestic waste they find. The other day there must have been about five or six rats in the one bin.
“That whole area is horrendous and is getting worse and worse. So much so that environmental health seems to be struggling to put the bait (poison) down.
“Students live in that area as well. It is not very nice for people coming into the city to study. That video was taken two metres away from a cleansing depot.”
The council is reminding residents to dispose of their waste properly within a suitable bin and to keep bin areas tidy.
Members of staff who are concerned about infestation should report the incident so the council’s public health team can look into it.
A spokesman for the council said: “Unfortunately our staff can encounter pests during the course of their work and we have well established procedures designed to protect their health and safety.
“Most importantly if staff are concerned about an infestation they should report the incident so our public health team can look at an appropriate course of action.
“We would never expect our regular cleansing staff to go into known areas of infestation, such as where there is a nest of rats, until steps had been taken to deal with the issue.
“Rats are basically in search of food within discarded waste and they will thrive in areas where bins are misused or bin courts are poorly maintained.
“To prevent issues with rats in bin courts it is vital that residents ensure food waste is properly contained within a suitable bin and bin areas are kept tidy.
“We have received no report from staff in connection to the Kelvinhaugh St backcourt, but our pest control team will now visit the premises and take appropriate action.”