I feel sick to the stomach over bin strike threat

Daniela Scott
Daniela Scott runs her father's Italian restaurant on Edinburgh's Royal Mile [BBC]

Edinburgh businesses have said the city cannot cope with another summer of strikes by bin collectors like the one which left rubbish piled on the streets two years ago.

Daniela Scott, who runs her father's Italian restaurant on Edinburgh's Royal Mile, said she felt "sick to her stomach" when unions announced plans to strike during the Edinburgh Festival in August.

"It is embarrassing for tourists to come over to Scotland's most famous street and it's stinking and nobody wants to be sat next to rubbish while they eat," the 39-year-old said.

"They need to stop the strike. They need to think about the city, especially the Royal Mile, it is one of the biggest tourist streets in the world. It's where Edinburgh Castle is. It's horrific."

Ms Scott said that two years ago when workers held a 12-day strike during the festival, the city's historic Old Town looked like olden times when they used to throw slops of the windows and shout "gardyloo".

"We certainly don't want that again," she said.

Tourists beside a mountain of rubbish in Edinburgh
A strike two years ago led to piles of rubbish across the city [BBC]

Earlier this week, waste and recycling staff in Edinburgh voted to strike during the festival over a pay dispute.

Unite union members have voted to strike in 16 local authorities and GMB members at 13 councils.

The two unions said the current pay offer from local government body Cosla fell significantly short of what they deserved.

Cosla defended its pay offer and urged the unions to reconsider the decision to take industrial action.

William Burdett-Coutts
William Burdett-Coutts said another bin strike during the Edinburgh Festival would "seriously impact on the lives" of performers [Getty]

William Burdett-Coutts, who runs one of the Edinburgh Fringe's biggest venues, called for the strike to be stopped "at all costs".

Mr Burdett-Coutts, who has been running the Assembly venues for 45 years, told BBC Scotland News he thought the festival was once again being used as a pawn in the dispute between the unions and councils.

"When I heard, I thought 'Oh no, not again' and I felt sad because we put so much work into making the festival happen," he said.

"August is the biggest showcase of the year for Edinburgh and it is embarrassing if there is a massive amount of rubbish lying around everywhere. It doesn't help the city image," he said.

Tourist in Edinburgh
Tourists said they wanted to take pictures of Edinburgh without piles of rubbish being in them [BBC]

Galab Singh Gold, who owns 12 Scottish souvenir shops on the Royal Mile, said his business relied heavily on international visitors.

"It was a total disaster two years ago and very bad for the image of the city," he said.

"We had a lot of tourists asking us 'Is this what the city looks like all the time? It's such a beautiful city, why is it so messy?'

"There were piles and piles of rubbish and a lot of stench because of the weather at that time.

"It was very unsightly and people couldn't understand how come a World Heritage Site was in such a bad state."

Mr Singh Gold said his customers were shocked and disappointed because they were expecting to find the beautiful Edinburgh that is portrayed in the pictures online.

"It did leave a very negative impact," he said.

"We were having to jump over the rubbish while we were making our deliveries and the stench was terrible."

"If it happens again it's just going to be another nail in the coffin for the image and reputation of Edinburgh."

Tom Ponton
Tom Ponton, owner of the Oz Bar in Edinburgh's Grassmarket, said he saw rats raiding the rubbish during the last bin strike in the city [BBC]

Tom Ponton, owner of the Oz Bar in Edinburgh's Grassmarket, said his heart sank when he heard another strike was being planned.

"The last strike during the festival was a disgrace," he said.

"It was a health hazard.

"We were wading through overloaded bins with everything, including food, coming out of them.

"There were rats raiding all through them and stray cats jumping all over them."

Mr Ponton said it was unbelievable that workers would be striking again at the most inconvenient time for the city.

"It's the capital city and biggest arts festival in the world and we have got to deal with this?," he said.

Edinburgh bin strike in 2022
Businesses don't wants a repeat of the bin strikes of 2022 [BBC]

Edinburgh branch secretary of Unite, Brian Robertson, said members did "not want to make a mess of the festival" and urged the Scottish government to come to the table and find a solution to prevent it from happening again.

"It's about local government pay for the whole of Scotland," he said.

"These brave workers will be coming out on strike, losing wages, unless the Scottish government comes to the table and we can negotiate with them and with Cosla to get a decent pay rise for all local government workers in Scotland.

"The vast majority of local government workers earn far less than the median wage in this city - many of them are working on less than £20,000 a year."

A Cosla spokesperson said it had made a strong offer which was at the limits of affordability for councils.

"We are disappointed that industrial action is being contemplated by our unions and concerned that it appears to be targeted at waste services, once again raising potential public health risks," they said.