Piles of rubbish in Scotland raise health concerns amid strikes

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LONDON (AP) — Piles of stinking rubbish on the streets of Edinburgh are threatening public health and safety, a health authority warned on Saturday as strikes by garbage collectors in the Scottish capital entered their ninth day.

Public Health Scotland’s warning came as garbage collectors in Newham, a London borough, also walked off the job for a week over a pay dispute.

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Images of food waste and nappies rotting in the streets only add to scenes of chaos in the UK as industrial disputes escalate amid soaring food and energy prices. Bathers in the UK were last week warned to stay away from dozens of beaches as heavy rain washed raw sewage into rivers and seas.

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Public Health Scotland has told local authorities that ‘decontamination of public areas where bins have overflowed may be required’. He warned that « if organic waste accumulates, it can become a risk to human health ».

The garbage collectors are out on August 18 and plan to be off work until August 30. More strikes are to come if the wage dispute is not resolved.

Britain is facing a massive cost of living crisis, with pay rises failing to keep up with inflation, which last week stood at 10.1%. These financial challenges have only increased due to soaring energy costs – authorities say UK residents will see an 80% increase in their annual energy bills in October.

The country has seen waves of strikes this summer, with the public transport system virtually shut down for several days due to rail strikes. Primary schools and nurseries in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, will be forced to close for several days next month if a strike by municipal workers continues.

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In London, Newham Council garbage collectors began a week of walkouts on Saturday, with union officials warning there could be more. Sharon Graham, general secretary of the Unite union, said these workers were paid less than others in neighboring councils.

“The council must now focus on reaching an agreement with the workers, who are facing a financial crisis,” said Graham. « If they don’t, the days ahead will no doubt mean more industrial action. »

Britain’s image has taken a hit this summer. French lawmakers in the European Parliament complained this week that raw sewage dumped into rivers and seas by the UK is also threatening bathing waters, fishing grounds and biodiversity in the European Union.

Parts of Britain’s sewage system were submerged after several days of unusually heavy rain.


Follow all AP environmental stories at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-and-environment.


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