The 10-day strike by council staff in Edinburgh, the first in a series of protests planned by trade unions, is due to last until August 30. Cleansing staff working for Labour’s Edinburgh City Council began strike action last Thursday as part of the protest over pay. But already, bins throughout the Scottish capital are overflowing and rubbish is now dumped on busy streets as a result of the bins not being emptied.
The crisis has been heightened as tourists are continuing to flock to Edinburgh to enjoy festivals that have been taking place in the capital throughout this summer.
Local government body Cosla made the latest offer on Friday, but unions have warned that while they will consider the deal, it is still significantly below the current rate of surging inflation.
The SNP have been warned the escalating bin worker strike risks “international embarrassment” for Edinburgh and Scotland as a whole.
Scottish Conservative Lothians MSP Miles Briggs said: “The Labour council in Edinburgh has completely failed to plan ahead.
“The lack of contingency planning has been astounding. More could have been done to prepare the city, such as working with private companies or providing additional bins.
“The SNP Government must now intervene to prevent international embarrassment for Edinburgh and Scotland.”
Mr Briggs added: “The rubbish piling up on our streets risks damaging our city’s reputation. These annual festivals are supposed to be a source of pride, not humiliation.
“The SNP Government must get around the table and fix this before it’s too late. They cannot stand by and watch while a situation that they created by giving councils a poor funding settlement spirals out of control.”
READ MORE: POLL: Who should be Tory leader? Truss, Sunak or Johnson?
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton wants the Scottish Government’s emergency budget review to deliver more support.
He said: “The effects of the strike are depressingly visible. We are seeing mountains of filth piling up.
“The blame for these strikes lies entirely in the hands of an SNP/Green Government which has cut £1billion from local government budgets in recent years and hardly lifted a finger to tackle the cost of living crisis.
“We all know that August is perhaps the most important month in Edinburgh’s calendar. This situation risks jeopardising the capital’s reputation among festival visitors from across the UK and the world.
POLL: Should the BBC be defunded? [OPINION]
The party’s over for lazy MPs – it’s time for some discipline – JAMES WHALE [COMMENTS]
Octopus Energy hands lifeline to millions to save £840 on bills [LATEST]
“Refuse workers are being hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis. They need emergency changes to the budget which will properly fund local government and support those in need.
“The Scottish Government must fund local authorities so that they can afford to give workers a proper pay rise and put an end to this sorry mess.”
Edinburgh City Council leader Cammy Day also said: “I firmly believe that all council colleagues deserve to be paid fairly for the work they do and have every right to take this action and have their voices heard.
“As the lowest funded council in Scotland, it’s time for the Scottish Government to properly fund our capital city and its services.”
Ms Sturgeon said her Scottish Government is still “determined to deliver” – despite UK inflation soaring into double figures last year as the country struggles with the cost of living crisis.
The First Minister insisted they will do whatever possible to help with “fair pay deals” and is hopeful the new five percent offered by Cosla will resolve the situation.
Speaking during a visit to Aberdeen, she said: “We live in a really challenging time with inflation in double figures right now, which is why the Scottish Government is determined to deliver – as far as we can and to facilitate as far as we can – fair pay deals.
“We’ve provided – and the councils are the employers of the workers that you’re referring to right now – we’ve provided more resources to local authorities to try to facilitate a fairer pay deal.
“I’m glad to see that Cosla has now put on the table a five percent pay offer and I hope that now paves the way to these issues being resolved.”