Union tells council – stop blaming refuse workers for ...

Union tells council – stop blaming refuse workers for cuts crisis

21 September 2016

Unite the union has told Edinburgh council bosses to stop attacking the city’s refuse workers.

The union is meeting with council mangers today (Wednesday 21 September) to present research showing that the council’s Environmental Service is underfunded to the tune of about £17 million. 

And they will demand that council members stop scapegoating workers for the effects of massive council cuts.

Unite City of Edinburgh Council convener Peter Lawson said: “Once you take into account the effect of inflation, and population growth, and the amount of tax that is being paid out to send refuse to landfill, we estimate that the service has seen a real-terms cut of at least £17 million since 2009. 

“That’s a massive cut of around 16%. And the real figure could be even higher, as the cost of fuel for council refuse lorries has been going up much quicker than inflation.

“Our members are at the front end of having to deal with those savage cuts. They earn thousands of pounds a year less than the average Scottish wage for doing a physically demanding job that is getting harder and harder with every year.

“Our message to Edinburgh council members is clear – the problem with your refuse service is the austerity cuts that have been made in Westminster and handed on by Holyrood. 

“Attacking our members and threatening them with privatisation might be a way for politicians and senior executives to pass the buck, but it is helping no-one and it has to stop.”


For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Unite Scotland media officer David Eyre on 07960 451631 /

Notes to editors

Unite’s research on the cuts to the city’s Environmental Services budget is based on the following figures:

2008/9 Gross Environmental Services Budget                                                 £83,512,000

2015/16 Budget if 2008/09 Budget had kept pace with Retail Price Inflation         £111,901,174

2015/16 Gross Environmental Services Budget                                                 £107,211,000

Deficit due to budget not keeping pace with inflation                                         £4,690,174

Increase needed to cover 4% growth in population (based on 2009 Budget)         £3,340,480

2015/16 Landfill tax                                                                                                 £8,976,061

Budget loss between 2008/09 - 2015/16 due to inflation loss, budget 

not keeping pace with population growth, and Landfill Tax                                  £17,006,715