Cleansing workers have blamed the introduction of three-weekly bin collections for Glasgow’s rat problem.
GMB cleansing convenor Chris Mitchell has urged city council bosses to sit down with the union to discuss how best to tackle rat infestations in the “city once and for all”, after shocked workers filmed a rat “the size of a cat” in Possilpark while they were working to empty the bins last weekend.
Three videos show rats scurrying in and out of the bins before running off as well as a large rodent waddling past the worker’s feet, which appeared to be too fat to run away from them.
Mr Mitchell claimed that the introduction of three weekly bin collections has only worsened the problem.
A spokeswoman for Glasgow Council insisted there had been no “specific request” to senior officers about a “perception of an increase in rats” however – and insisted that reported incidents were “minimal” and that no “significant health and safety concerns” had been raised.
Mr Mitchell, who has worked with the cleansing service for 30 years, said the rat problem was getting worse and members had had enough.
He said: “The introduction of three weekly bin collections to encourage people to recycle has only exacerbated the situation we find ourselves in and I don’t know how many times I need to highlight the issue in videos or on social media.
“The council needs to sit down with us and think about how they can tackle this problem once and for all. We need to work together for the people of Glasgow and our members who are facing these conditions.
“At some point someone is going to come into danger because of the impact the vermin have on public health. This is not a scare tactic, it is a fact.
“They say every city has rats but as I have said before – not to the same extent as Glasgow. They are everywhere, in all different corners of the city. The situation is not getting any better and this cannot continue.
“Our members are getting sick of it. I have been in cleansing for 30 years, I came across rats back then too but not to the extent we are seeing now.”
A local councillor said the GMB is right to raise the issue on behalf of its workers.
Labour’s Fiona Higgins says she and her ward colleagues had been receiving similar emails about the problem from concerned residents.
Councillor Higgins said: “I have had constant emails about the cleansing issues throughout my ward since my election last year. My colleagues in other wards across the city have been receiving similar emails from concerned Glasgow residents.
“The condition in areas across the city has really declined because of year on year budget cuts to cleansing including litter picking, road cleaning and bin collection. This situation is unacceptable and has led the city in a disgraceful condition.
“The GMB are right to raise this as their workers are frontline and having to deal with the decline in their work environment including pest control problems. Possilpark is seeing a rise in rodent problems due to a combination of cleansing budget cuts and a number of disused properties which are encouraging flytipping.
“I would encourage all Possilpark residents experiencing issues with cleansing locally to contact me and I will raise this as a priority for addressing with the council.”
A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said: “There has not been any specific request to senior officers from the trade unions about a perception of an increase in rats in certain areas of the city.
“There are several forums available to trade union colleagues to raise concerns or they can request additional meetings.
“Our cleansing staff are actively encouraged to report rat infestations through the normal process to protect their health and safety.
“Reported incidents, which are minimal, are not showing any significant health and safety concerns being raised or requiring any further action, but we will continue to monitor these.
“We are also not aware of any other public body in the city with issues in relation to an increased rat population.”