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Recycling rage sparks a 40% rise in attacks on bin workers

ATTACKS on refuse workers by angry members of the public have increased by 40 per cent — with staff being stabbed, bitten and even shot.

Physical assaults totalled 156 last year, up from 111 in the year before, a freedom of information request to councils has revealed.

Many involved householders left irate over the rules about how waste must be collected.

Some workers were threatened with metal bars or knives in such disputes — including one employee in Thanet, Kent, who found that a green recycling bin was contaminated with other rubbish. They were faced by a resident holding a Rambo-style blade, who said: ‘Are you sure you don’t want to take this?’

In Leeds, a worker was shot in the back of the head with a BB gun fired from a property close to where they were collecting rubbish. Another in Wolverhampton was whacked with a bin lid after refusing to take contaminated waste.

In a number of cases, staff were attacked in road rage incidents by motorists annoyed that they were stuck behind a bin lorry. In Rochdale, Greater Manchester, a motorist punched one of the binmen and tried to drag another out of the cab.

‘This is unacceptable, and it has to stop,’ said the Local Government Association.

Rehana Azam, GMB national secretary, said refuse workers deserve to be given a pay rise.

‘We all rely on refuse collections to keep our streets safe and clean,’ he said. ‘Never more so than during this pandemic where workers have been putting their lives on the line while most of us stay at home.’