Rat bites have left cleansing staff in hospital, according to a trade union leader who accused the council of being “in denial” about a vermin problem that was “getting worse and worse”.
Convenor of the GMB Chris Mitchell, who also works in the city council’s cleansing department, claims he has become the “rat boy of Glasgow” as reports of infestations continue across the city.
He launched a rat register last week to encourage people to record any sightings of these rodents, amid increasing concerns on social media and the emergence of photos and video of rats in the street.
The GMB hopes this will help their campaign for more “boots on the ground” to tackle the issue, with hundreds of people signing the register since Friday.
But Glasgow City Council has hit back, saying the rat register is “just for show” and “serves no other purpose than to spread fear, alarm and negativity.”
GMB convenor Chris Mitchell said: “We have had more sightings and attacks with rats more frequently over the last 15 months. Cleansing staff have been hospitalised because of it and say they have never seen so many rats in their whole life.
“The situation is getting worse and worse.
“Unfortunately the council seems to be in some sort of denial. We have videos and photos to prove the problem. We are not here to shock people but show them how the service is suffering.
“The rats have to go somewhere and they have made their way into communities and we need to get rid of them.
“We are hoping to build a picture of the problem as we need investment to stop it. It is becoming a health and safety issue.
“I think I have become the rat boy of Glasgow to be honest with you. People are phoning me for advice because they think I’m going about catching rats.
“They want to know how to get rid of them and who to phone about it. It is rife, places in Glasgow are overrun with rats.
“We are not trying to have a go at the council, we are trying to help but they don’t see that.”
Glasgow City Council has confirmed that in 2016 there were 573 refuse collectors and this has increased to 598 in 2021.
They say that anyone who has concerns about pests in or around their property can contact the local authority for support who will provide an appropriate service.
A spokesman said: “We are sorry to say but anyone going to GMB for help with a pest control problem is wasting their time.
“It is very clear the GMB’s rat register is all for show and serves no purpose other than to spread fear, alarm and negativity.
“GMB does not provide pest control services and is in no position to offer any practical help to any resident who has a concern about pests.
“If GMB has gathered any information on specific pest control problems then they must pass on the information immediately so that appropriate action can actually be taken.
“Despite the considerable disruption caused by covid, the council has continued to undertake pest control treatments in back courts across the city throughout the pandemic.
“As restrictions have eased, we have been able to restore our full range of pest control services, which are generally available free of charge.
“Anyone who has a concern about pests in or around their property can contact the council for support and we will provide an appropriate service.”
The row comes as council leader Susan Aitken insisted that Glasgow was not ‘filthy’ and said it just needed “a spruce up”.
The comments to STV followed concerns from opposition councillors that the city was “manky” and “in no fit state” to host the global COP26 climate summit later this year.
Asked directly if she agreed the streets were “filthy”, the SNP council leader told STV: “I don’t think that everywhere in the city is filthy.
“We’ve got some work to do to get Glasgow looking back to its best in some of the neighbourhoods.”
“I think Glasgow needs a spruce up as we emerge from Covid.”
Story by local democracy reporter Catherine Hunter