THE Labour-run city of Edinburgh was covered in piles of rubbish and overflowing bins on day five of strikes as the dispute over pay grows.

With tourists flocking to the city for the festival season the streets were packed to the brim on Monday - but anyone looking to dispose of their rubbish in between shows was faced with jammed bins across the city centre, some of which had even been taped up in an attempt to stop more waste being crammed into them.

The cleansing staff at Edinburgh city council are set to strike for 11 days, finishing on August 31, after they rejected a 3.5% pay offer from Cosla.

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This has now been raised to 5%, which First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she hoped would break the deadlock, but unions Unite and GMB have warned that the offer is not high enough in rate with inflation and the strikes will continue.

Empty coffee cups, flyers and beer cans were strewn across the streets outside of Waverley station, with visitors leaving the main train hub in the city greeted by bins crammed-full of litter at each entrance.

The popular Cockburn Street, which leads up to the Royal Mile and the heart of the festival scene, was full of tourists passing overloaded large wheelie bins, more almost-bursting black bags of rubbish and litter collecting in the gutters beside the pavements.

In Grassmarket, a popular eating and drinking spot for visitors and locals alike, recycling bins were teeming with cardboard and empty plastic bottles, and one local business owner said he was feeling the impact of the strikes.

Scott Dickson, an ice cream maker who runs a stall in the Grassmarket, told The National he was “on the brink” of shutting up shop until the strikes were over due to the impact on his business.

The small hut sits beside a huge pile of rubbish and bin bags, which were bringing an unpleasant odour to the street. The National spotted Dickson hanging an empty bag off an industrial wheelie bin, in a bid to make “a bad situation a wee bit better”.

He added: “We’re lucky if we’ve had ten customers today.

“It’s a disgrace, and the buck has to stop at the council, I think the council have obviously been given money by the Scottish Government to deal with their situation and their not passing it on to the bin men and the people who deal with this mess.

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“I don’t blame them for taking strike action, it has to be done.”

Chris Henry, who works in Edinburgh city centre, said: “It’s not great but pay the council workers more and it won’t be that bad. I’m absolutely on side with them, they timed it well.

“I’m willing to put up with it for a week or so if it means the Government pays them more to keep up with the cost of living. Anything less than 10% is an absolute joke, I’d be happy to pay more in council tax.”

It comes as Alison Maclean of Unite said that the 5% offer was an “improvement”, but added: “It is important to emphasise that it comes at a time when the broader retail price index has now hit a 40-year high at 12.3%.

The National: Recyling bins in the Grassmarket were overflowingRecyling bins in the Grassmarket were overflowing

“Unite’s local government committee will urgently consider this latest offer. At this juncture the strikes for next week continue as planned.”

Scottish Greens Councillor Ben Parker, the party’s Edinburgh environment spokesperson, said that they stand “in solidarity” with the striking workers.

He told The National: “In the context of an unprecedented cost of living crisis, and the extremely difficult circumstances that council workers experienced over the pandemic, it's clear our workers deserve a decent pay rise. We call on all those involved, and especially the Scottish Government and Cosla, to redouble their efforts to ensure that council workers can be offered the pay rise they deserve."

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Deidre Brock, SNP MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, said that the inaction from the Labour administration is an “absolute disgrace” and urged them to take action or risk “making our capital city an embarrassment”.

She added: “Residents and tourists alike need to see a plan from Labour to clean up the capital starting today. All we’ve seen so far is ineptitude.

“This is the consequence of the pathetic political games Labour have been playing as they sided with the Tories to try and block a 5% pay increase being offered to council employees.”

Edinburgh City Council has been contacted for comment.