Burch promises ‘island-wide blitz’ on trash
Garbage will be collected once a week starting next Monday, the Minister of Public Works said yesterday — and the piles of uncollected trash will be off the streets and sidewalks by tomorrow.
Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch made the announcements during a press conference at Global House.
Colonel Burch said that, effective from next week, trash collection would be done once a week for a ten-week period.
He explained: “This time will allow us to conduct a full assessment of the trucks that are serviceable, conduct extensive repairs, complete the TCD relicensing process and return a larger number into the operational fleet.”
He said information on the new collection days would be forthcoming.
Colonel Burch said that an “island-wide blitz” tomorrow would “clear all the garbage from every neighbourhood”.
He added that every truck in the ministry would be used, with assistance provided by the Hustle Truck workers.
Colonel Burch said that a work-to-rule taken by garbage collectors had ended last week and that employees were back to working overtime to try and keep pace with pick-ups.
He added: “The net result of that is still an unsatisfactory state of affairs as we are unable to fully complete designated collection in any one day.”
Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, previously said the industrial action was taken amid worker concerns about the lack of staffing and trash trucks.
Colonel Burch dismissed the suggestion that the action was taken by workers over the failure to be paid for overtime.
He said: “There's no truth to that at all, as far as I am aware.
“If they are not being paid for overtime I'd like to know where the money's going, because I sign on a regular basis to via money from unfilled posts to overtime.”
Colonel Burch described the garbage collectors as “dedicated and committed workers” who took pride in their jobs under some “very trying circumstances”.
He added: “They do a good job and I will not tolerate any abuse directed at them.”
Colonel Burch added that interviews were being conducted today for five additional waste collectors — hires that were approved last year but never made.
He expected the positions to be filled before February 23.
He said that knuckles had been “rapped” over the failure to fill the posts.
He added: “Internally, within the ministry, I have voiced my displeasure to those people who did not bring it to my attention that three months in, they're still waiting from approval from somewhere else.
“I think it's fair to say that I don't think that will be happening again.”
Colonel Burch announced that five new trash vehicles would also be bought.
He said that a team including a truck driver and a trash collector would travel overseas before the end of the month to select the next batch of trucks.
Colonel Burch said: “To be clear, though, there is a lengthy lead time involved, so it will likely be November before they arrive on island.”
He said the trucks would cost about $90,000 each.
Colonel Burch also used the press conference to highlight steps that members of the public could take to make trash collection easier, including not overfilling bags and cutting back trees along private roads.
He also asked residents to be respectful of their neighbours and workers by not putting out garbage before collection day.
Colonel Burch said: “If that does not work then we shall resort to enforcement and prosecution of those who refuse to follow the law.”