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Garbage piles in Scotland raise health concerns amid strikes

LONDON (AP) – Stinking piles of garbage on the streets of Edinburgh are threatening the health and safety of the public, a health authority warned on Saturday as strikes by garbage collectors in the Scottish capital moved into their ninth day.

The warning from Public Health Scotland came as garbage collectors in Newham, a borough of London, also walked out for a week over a pay dispute.

Images of food waste and diapers rotting on the streets is just adding to scenes of chaos in United Kingdom (UK) as industrial disputes multiply amid soaring food and energy costs.

Bathers in the UK were warned last week to stay away from dozens of beaches as heavy rain flushed raw sewage into rivers and seas.

Public Health Scotland told local authorities that the “decontamination of public areas where bins have overflowed may be required”.

It warned that “if organic waste builds up, it can become a risk to human health”.

Garbage collectors walked out on August 18 and plan to stay off work until August 30. Even more strikes lay ahead if the pay dispute is not resolved.

Britain is facing a massive cost-of-living crisis, with wage increases failing to keep up with inflation, which last week stood at 10.1 per cent. Those financial challenges have only been increased due to soaring energy costs – authorities say residents in Britain will see an 80-per-cent increase in their annual energy bills in October.

The country has seen waves of strikes this summer, with the public transport system grinding to a virtual halt on several days due to rail strikes. Primary schools and nurseries in Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, will be forced to close for several days next month if a strike from council workers goes ahead.

In London, garbage drivers in Newham Council began a week of walkouts on Saturday, with union officials warning there could be more. General secretary of the Unite union Sharon Graham said those workers were paid less than others in neighbouring councils.

“The council must now focus on reaching a deal with the workers, who face a financial crisis,” Graham said. “If they don’t, then the coming days will undoubtedly mean more industrial action.”

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