Sturgeon sparks fury as Scottish taxpayers pay £43m for bins to be collected privately

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Bin strikes have hit two-thirds of Scotland’s 32 councils. Garbage is building up in many town and city centres, including Edinburgh. However, Ms Sturgeon’s official residence is exempt from the chaos thanks to the work of Mitie, a private company funded by Scots.

Ms Sturgeon’s office last year hired the waste removal firm to look after more than 70 Scottish Government buildings at a cost of £43million, the Mail on Sunday reported.

The revelation that the First Minister’s home — Bute House — is also benefitting from the private service is set to add fuel to the anger over the Scottish National Party (SNP) leader’s handling of the strikes.

Since Friday, binmen from more than 60 percent of Scotland’s councils walked out, leading to piles of rat-infested rubbish lining the streets of the capital, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and dozens of towns.

Staff from 20 councils put down their tools in an intense pay dispute with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), with three unions — the GMB, Unite and Unison — involved in negotiations with the umbrella body.

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The strikes are set to continue until the end of the month after talks between Cosla and unions failed to reach a resolution on Sunday.

Bosses from the GMB, Unison and Unite unions rejected a five percent pay offer from Cosla, which they say amounts to a seven percent pay cut when set against rampant inflation.

But on Monday, a new pay deal was made to try to settle the council pay battle.

While details of the offer have not yet been made public, it is expected bosses are eager to prevent further chaos.

Unions are seeking an agreement similar to the one made to council workers in England, which included a £1,925 flat rate pay increase.

They say offering a percentage pay rise would mean the most money would go to the best-paid staff.

If the new offer is accepted by the unions they will then put it to their members.

The current round of strikes is due to end on Wednesday in many local authority areas, and just before 5am on Tuesday in Edinburgh.

The first bin strike began in the capital city on August 18, in the middle of festival season, after the three unions rejected an initial pay offer equivalent to a 3.5 percent increase.

SNP ministers have been urged to find extra money to break the current deadlock.

The Scottish Government has injected £140million of funding for councils to help increase workers’ pay, but Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour Leader, said a “one-off bonus payment” was needed to bolster that.

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Public Health Scotland has warned the build-up of food waste and human waste from nappies poses a risk to safety and has urged councils to “decontaminate” areas in which bins have overflowed.

Miles Briggs, the Scottish Tory spokesman for housing, said it was unfair for Bute House to be left “spick and span” while the streets of Edinburgh resemble a “landfill site”.

He said: “Taxpayers who stump up for her bin collection to the tune of millions of pounds also pay for a proper council service, which they are being denied thanks to her [Ms Sturgeon’s] Government’s cuts and dithering.”

Mr Briggs also condemned the timing of Ms Sturgeon’s three-day visit to Denmark to open a Nordic office for the Scottish Government, which will cost taxpayers an estimated £600,000 a year.

He said: “It’s small wonder Nicola Sturgeon seems unflustered by the rubbish piling up around Edinburgh while she’s off in Copenhagen.

“She urgently needs to clear this mess up.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said it was “appropriate” that Mitie collected rubbish from Bute House given it “also functions as an office for officials and the Cabinet”.

If an agreement is not reached and the action is not called off, a second wave of strikes is due to take place from September 6 to 13 in a bid to “achieve a significantly improved pay offer”.

It would see hundreds of schools and nurseries close for three days.



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