'Rodents size of cats' prompts calls to declare rat crisis in Glasgow

Chris Mitchell from GMB Union said that cuts and understaffing is making members' jobs 'impossible'.

Cleansing workers have urged Glasgow City Council to declare a rat emergency amid sightings of “rodents the size of cats”.

Chris Mitchell from GMB Union said that cuts and understaffing are making members’ jobs “impossible” and fuelling a “rat pandemic”.

Mr Mitchell, who has been in the industry for 32 years, said he has never seen anything like the current situation with rodents in the city.

“It’s just getting worse and worse. It’s cuts in pest control, cuts in statuary services,” he told STV News.

Cleansing workers have urged the Scottish Government to declare a rat emergency amid STV News

He urged the council to “take notice” of the union declaring a rat emergency and “take responsibility”.

Jay Curran, who has worked as a cleansing worker for three years, said that the situation has only gotten worse since he started.

Mr Curran told STV News that new employees are being trained to “kick bins” before they open or move them to make sure there are no rodents.

“It’s just keeps getting worse, and now you’re seeing rats the size of cats cause there’s plenty of food for them to eat,” he said.

STV News joined cleansing workers on a West End route on Thursday morning where they came across a dead rat in the middle of a road.

Cleansing worker removing a dead rat from a main road in Glasgow.STV News

“It’s not just about in the back courts, they’re lying dead in the street now, right outside pubs and restaurants where people are trying to eat.

“It’s unacceptable,” he added.

The union boss said his members were under a lot of pressure from the public and politicians in the city which has been exacerbated by “horrendous” cuts.

He added that the issue is becoming a “major public health crisis”.

Chris Mitchell, GMB Union, said the rat issue in Glasgow is a public health crisis. STV News

The calls follow the news that the Commonwealth Games could make a return to Glasgow in 2026, which Mr Mitchell said will be “absolutely embarrassing”.

“We can’t have people come here when the vision they go away with is rats and rubbish.

“It’s not because we don’t want to clean the city up, we take pride in our job, the fact of the matter is, we don’t have the staffing levels to do it,” he said.

A spokesman for the council said: “Our refuse collection team is working with the full establishment of staff, although absence continues to be an issue that requires to be managed.

“The current on-street bin hub project also allows us to collect refuse more efficiently and this will allow staff to work on other necessary environmental tasks.

“Staff health and safety is an absolute priority and we have robust procedures to protect staff well-being.

“If staff encounter an infestation in the course of their duties it should be reported immediately and appropriate action will be taken by our environmental health team.

“The trade unions are directly involved in developing health and safety procedures and also which PPE is worn by staff.

“Rats are always in search of food and somewhere to nest.

“It is crucial that householders and property managers ensure food waste is properly contained and bin courts are kept in good order to deter rats.

“In a city of over 300,000 homes, thankfully only a very small percentage of properties are affected by rats at any one time.”

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