Delays in garbage collection to continue
Garbage collectors have been on a work-to-rule since last weekend, the head of their union said yesterday.
Chris Furbert, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, added that the works and engineering employees took action amid concerns about staffing levels.
He said: “They’re down at least 13 workers. They had 54 workers at one point and now they’re down to 41.”
Mr Furbert said collectors were also worried about a lack of trash trucks. He added: “It’s just like it is with the buses — there is a fleet shortage and the capacity of the new trucks is down.
“They used to have five-tonne trucks and now the trucks are 3½ tonnes.”
Mr Furbert said he planned to raise the staffing and vehicle problems today in a meeting with Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works.
The union leader was speaking after a government spokeswoman advised that delays in trash collection were expected to continue this week. Delays and cancellations in trash collection began across the island last week.
Mr Furbert blamed the shortage of workers in part on the hiring freeze for the civil service imposed under the former One Bermuda Alliance government.
Mr Furbert said: “Back in November 2016 they had a proposal to hire five people. That would have patched some of the gaps.”
But he added that those posts were never approved.
Mr Furbert said: “So the workers are not working any overtime until they get the numbers they need. Guys are tired of working until 10pm or 11pm at night.
“That can’t be safe — not if they’re doing that regularly. People think it’s about overtime but there’s a principle here.”
Employees perform only the minimum hours required by the rules of their contract under a work to rule.
A government spokeswoman said: “The Ministry of Public Works takes this opportunity to apologise to the public for the delays currently being experienced with the weekly garbage collection.”
The spokeswoman added Colonel Burch would provide an update on the ongoing situation “and steps being taken to address it”.
She added: “At this stage, the ministry is encouraging residents continue to secure their waste bags in lidded bins.
“As an added reminder the public can take their waste and recyclables to the Tynes Bay public drop off which is open from 7am to 6pm Monday through Friday, 7am to 7pm on Saturday and from 1pm to 6pm on Sunday.”
The ministry apologised last Friday to East End residents after garbage collection was cancelled, but said at the time that regular service would resume this week.
Jonathan Startling, executive director environmental charity Greenrock, said that delays in garbage collection could create public health problems.
Mr Starling said that a trash back-up could attract pests — particularly rats — and act as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
He added: “Both rats and mosquitoes can serve as vectors for disease.”
Mr Starling said that Greenrock would like to see Bermudians producing less waste.
He added: “The key thing is to produce less waste, recycle more and compost”.
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