Local residents have hit out at the "absolutely disgraceful" state of bins in Bexley, saying people are "rightly angry" watching the rubbish pile up and the stench grow due to ongoing strikes.

The pile up of bins has been described a "health hazard" and a "terrible advert for Bexley", with many residents nearing their fourth week without a collection.

The waste collection workers are currently on strike against their employers Serco who Unite, their union, say pay them well below London living wage among a number of other pay and victimisation issues.

The latest set of strikes started on July 12, and after an announcement last Friday now look set to continue into August.

Will Hamblin, a teacher in Bexley, said refuse workers had frequently missed their bins even before the strikes, and now hadn't had their bins collected since July 5.

The 34-year-old said they were in a "desperate situation" with bins piling up and are now "causing a public health hazard."

News Shopper: Bins across Bexley have been pictured piling upBins across Bexley have been pictured piling up

"I am unable to complain due to the industrial action, and the lack of urgency or accountability is shocking.

"We pay a lot of money to the council for council tax and I don't think it's acceptable that the service given is this poor."

Serco, who carry out waste collection in the borough on behalf of Bexley Council, said the workers available were working "exceptionally hard" to keep a skeleton service running, and that they were disappointed with the strikes.

Some local residents have called on the council to take some accountability for the "mess," accusing them of failing to appreciate the bin workers and of embarrassing the borough.

Bexley Council responded saying they were "furious" at the disruption just like residents were, and that they had "urged all sides to sit down and discuss the issue instead of holding our residents and public services hostage."

News Shopper: PA WirePA Wire

Claire Hedderman, 50, said the pile-up where she lives in Welling was becoming increasingly "ripe."

"There's a stench across Bexley now. Just walking around the borough you see it.

"The streets are littered, people are using public bins so they're overflowing, in some areas the gardens are full with full bin bags and bins are piled up outside.

"The rats will be everywhere.

"People have families so there's nappies, my neighbour has had to leave clinical waste outside, it's a mess and a health hazard.

"The smell is frankly awful now, certain places are especially bad, near Foots Cray and Belvedere.

"Imagine being unable to go on a holiday, and instead being trapped here surrounded by bins.

"I think people appreciate what the bin workers do, especially after the pandemic, and I'm ashamed they're being treated the way they are."

One person on Twitter said the even number houses on their road had their bins collected last week, but the odd numbers were missed, and at this point the household waste and food bins are "becoming a health issue."

Another described it as "Russian roulette for bin day tomorrow" after going three weeks without a collection, whilst another called the sight of bins piling up 'absolutely disgraceful'.

Bexley's cabinet member for places, Cllr Peter Craske said: “Just like Bexley’s residents, we are furious such a vital public service, one which is used by all residents all the time, is being disrupted in this way and prevented from being delivered fully because of actions of a small minority of people.

"A fundamental part of our new contract is our insistence that staff be paid the London Living Wage, so staff working in this service will receive far bigger pay rises than many other people in Bexley which makes this strike even more baffling.

"We have urged all sides to sit down and discuss the issues, instead of holding our residents and our vital public services hostage in this way.”

Claire, who works for Greenwich Council, said that if Serco and Bexley Council had paid the workers properly in the first place "then we wouldn't be in this situation."

"What I don't understand is it's not even that much money they're asking for.

"People from Bexley Council keep telling me it's nothing to do with them, that they contracted the service out.

"Well they chose the contract and I think they should be held to account.

"The thing is I and most people I've spoken to think the workers have a just cause. They do a great job and for a clearly crap wage, and it seems Serco won't pay some of them, who are likely working on the breadline, wages owed to them.

"They were out there in the pandemic while we were frightened in our homes. The public appreciates them, why doesn't the council."

"That's what's winding everyone up," Claire continued.

"We don't want the workers to be on strike, but we also don't want them to not get paid. So just pay them a proper wage.

"This isn't 'my' Bexley, and this isn't how we want our borough to look to people. We want our public sector workers, heck our key workers, to be paid properly and be valued."

Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said: “Serco is determined by its actions to ensure there is a long hot stinking summer in Bexley.

“While it is was about time that Bexley Council got rid of poor performing Serco and our members can look forward to some improvements in their terms and conditions come October, several issues remain unresolved.

“Bexley council need to get a handle on this and intervene, otherwise rubbish will continue to pile up on the borough’s streets.”

Serco's senior contract manager Grace Waugh said they were 'disappointed' by the decision to take further strike action which has been made while peacekeeping discussions were ongoing.

Speaking on July 23, Waugh said: "We have prioritised refuse and food waste collections and offer our apologies to any residents whose collections have been missed because of this strike action.

"Our frontline teams are working exceptionally hard, often beyond their contracted hours, to minimise disruptions to residents and I would like to personally thank each of them for their continued help and support."


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