Bin collection workers verbally abused by homeowners in Harrogate

Bin crew workers in Harrogate have had verbal abuse hurled at them during rows over what waste they can and can't collect.

Monday, 27th April 2020, 5:53 pm
Updated Monday, 27th April 2020, 5:56 pm

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.

He 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.

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Bin collection workers have been verbally abused by homeowners in Harrogate

"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.”

Mr Houlgate said the verbal abuse normally happens when bin workers do not take certain items.

There are legal limits on what the refuse vehicles can carry - as well as guidelines on what the crews can and cannot collect.

“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," Mr Houlgate said.

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

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.

Mr Houlgate added: "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.”

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter

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