Coronavirus: Minority verbally abusing bin workers

Coronavirus: Minority verbally abusing bin workers

Published by May Norman at 5:21am 28th April 2020. (Updated at 5:33am 28th April 2020)

UNISON plea - Please treat key workers with respect

  • A union claims a small minority of refuse workers have received verbal abuse during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Unison has made the claim.
  • It's urging the public to treat key workers with respect.

Bin crew workers in Harrogate have had verbal abuse hurled at them during rows over recyclables.

Public sector union UNISON is condemning the behaviour of a “small minority” of residents who it said targeted staff working on their rounds through the pandemic.

Branch Secretary David Houlgate said he was sad to report the shocking situation which comes just one week after council workers were left messages of thanks from grateful residents.

Speaking for UNISON, Branch Secretary David Houlgate said:

"The main experience for the drivers and loaders is one of overwhelming support from the public and I cannot emphasise enough just how uplifting that is for the crews but there is a small minority that, maybe through frustration or anxiety caused by the lockdown, think its fine to verbally abuse the staff.

"Let’s be clear those staff are working at increased risk for themselves in delivering this vital service and do not deserve to be treated in such a way.

“This usually happens when a decision is taken not to take some items put out for waste removal.


Mr Houlgate continued:

“There is no doubt that they are currently having to collect more than ever before as a result of the lockdown and staff from other Council services such as Parks and Sport and Leisure are helping out but there are legal limits on what the vehicles can carry and there are clear guidelines on what the crews can and cannot collect.

“So please, please go easy on the crews. They are only doing their jobs but in very testing circumstances.

“We again wish to stress that the huge majority of residents are treating the crews with respect and appreciation and the crews value this. We wish to thank the public for all the support that they are giving.”

Harrogate Borough Council said it is doing everything it can to cope with added pressure on its household waste and recycling collections, with families staying at home and recycling centres staying shut.

Crews are wearing gloves to stay safe – and residents can also help by washing their hands when putting anything into bins or recycling boxes.