2nd August 2023

In the last few days, those of us residing in South Gloucestershire have seen the return of our recycling collection, after several weeks of doing without while a pay dispute rumbled on. The latest offer to the union involved has gone to members’ ballot for acceptance (or not!), so we still don’t know if we’re completely out of the woods, but we live in hope! Yes, we realise that whatever form the final settlement takes, the cost will be passed on to us through our community charge but knowing that we no longer have to find extra space to store our rubbish will be a great relief.

Waste collection is one of those topics that aren’t taken seriously until for some reason they don’t happen as expected. No, being a bin man isn’t skilled work requiring long years of training; it just asks for strength, stamina, a willingness to be out in all weathers and patience to put up with occasional moans from unhappy residents. Not many of us would want to do it, perhaps, but we’d all soon be in a mess (quite literally) if it no longer happened. The same goes for the likes of office cleaners, road sweepers, table wipers at motorway service areas and anyone else who has to clear up after us.

People have to live, to pay their rent, to feed their children, to clothe themselves, and it’s a pity if we can’t adequately reward the real contribution low-skilled workers make to the general quality of our lives. As 1 Timothy 5:18 puts it, paraphrasing the OT Law, ‘the labourer deserves to be paid.’

Ken Stewart