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Garbage collectors down tools over truck shortages

Trash on Middle Road in Devonshire (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Industrial action taken over a lack of working trash trucks could see waste collection halted next week, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union warned.

Chris Furbert said yesterday that the Ministry of Public Works had agreed to supply waste collectors with at least eight working trucks after collectors downed tools this morning in the East End.

Government confirmed last night that there had been delays in trash collection “due to industrial action by collections staff” but said collection is expected to resume on Monday.

A Government spokeswoman said: “The matter, which is being addressed by the Bermuda Industrial Union and the Ministry's management team, will affect areas in the East End. They include the Aquarium east to St. George’s and the Devil’s Hole Hill area east to St. David’s.

“The Ministry notes that collection is expected to resume Monday morning. The Ministry apologises to the public for the inconvenience caused and encouraged the use of the Tynes Bay Public Drop off, which is open from 7am to 7pm daily.”

However, Mr Furtbert warned that if the union’s demands for eight trucks were not met, the collectors would not go back to work on Monday.

Mr Furbert said yesterday: “They’ve got 14 zones to pick up and they had two trucks available to work this morning.

“Normally they have anywhere between eight and ten trucks.”

He added: “You’re going to be killing these guys – these guys have been working all hours of the night in order to start picking up the trash and that’s not acceptable.

“It’s too much stress and wear and tear on the body to try and pick up twelve zones-worth of trash with maybe five trucks.”

“If they had seven or eight the workers probably would have gone out, but basically what the workers are saying is ‘we need these tools to do our work and until we get the tools to do our work we’re not picking up any trash’.”

Mr Furbert was speaking after garbage collectors downed tools around 7.30am yesterday, which left trash in the East End, which includes St George’s, Hamilton Parish and all of Smiths east of Devils Hole Hill, uncollected.

He said that garbage collectors had worked until 10pm on Thursday because only two trucks were available.

Mr Furbert added that, although an additional three trucks were provided that night, it was not enough to get the job done.

He also said that some trash trucks were still unavailable the following day, although he was unsure whether or not they had broken down.

Mr Furbert added that the number of trash trucks available had been a problem for “years”.

He said garbage collectors were supposed to have a fleet of about 18 trucks – 15 in operation with three spares – but that “for whatever reason they’re not getting back to that number”.

He added: “All of this has been doing on for several years now and they’ve just said ‘you know what, we’ve had enough’.”

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Published July 24, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated July 24, 2021 at 8:00 am)

Garbage collectors down tools over truck shortages

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