Money spent installing QR codes on thousands of public bins in Glasgow should be used to employ more staff, according to GMB members.
The trade union is urging Glasgow City Council to go “back to basics” rather than “run a complaint service” after they announced that new phone scanning codes will be displayed on 5500 public litter bins and public recycling bins at more than 700 recycling points.
The technology, which should be in place later this year, is being designed to make it easier for people to instantly report if bins are full, damaged or have rubbish lying around.
But GMB says this won’t help the problem on Glasgow’s streets and the only solution is to employ more staff.
Chris Mitchell, GMB convenor, said: “The leader of the council was speaking about how technology will help in the fight against the cleansing crisis. QR codes will be attached to the street litter bins then in turn the public can put a code in telling the council that the bin is full.
“First, before we even consider this as a workforce, we need more staff. We do not have the employees to empty the bins on a regular basis because of massive cuts in the street cleansing budget.
“The bins have become a dumping ground with fly-tipping using resources we simply do not have. How much will this cost?
“The money should be available to employ more workers. It just shows you how much the council is out of touch and are still denying there is a cleansing crisis.
“Technology does not empty bins or sweep the streets. We must get back to basics.
“This to me is the council running a complaint service only.”
GMB is also asking members of the public if they would prefer more technology or more workers.
Earlier this week they declared that the cleansing department needed 100 new road sweepers, 100 extra refuse collectors and to reinstate back court teams.
It comes after the local authority was instructed to work with the trade union to see what needs to be done to help tackle the cleansing crisis.
Glasgow City Council confirmed they are currently recruiting street cleansing staff with the cleansing budget sitting at £17.7m for 2021/22.
A spokesman for the council said: “Resisting the use of data and technology in support of a substantial logistical operation such as Glasgow’s cleansing service is the way of the dinosaur.
“QR codes are simple to use and will help us to identify exactly where a public bin is, what it is used for and what issue needs to be dealt with.
“Using QR codes will help us deploy our resources in a targeted and effective way, helping to ensure issues with public bins are dealt with by the right team at the first time of asking.
“Despite what the GMB says, we welcome reports from the public as the information they provide helps us tailor our services to the needs of Glasgow citizens.
“Public bins are available for use 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and any individual bin can fill up at any time depending on demand but can also attract fly-tipping and vandalism.”
The spokesperson added: “It’s no surprise the GMB is struggling to adapt to the modern era and this latest criticism is yet another example of their continued campaign to denigrate Glasgow along with the efforts of our staff and their members.”
By local democracy reporter Catherine Hunter