Cleansing workers have said they are being subjected to abuse and attacks while trying to do their job.

The cleanliness of Glasgow’s streets has been under immense scrutiny with reports of overflowing street bins, changes to household collections and fly-tipping across the city.

Workers have told the leader of Glasgow City Council about what they have faced while out collecting bins.

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Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, said she, and councillor Allan Casey, met with staff at one of the city’s cleansing depots, in Queenslie, who told her of the pressures they face while trying to keep the city clean.

She said one of the problems they said had increased was a notable increase in abuse from members of the public.

Aitken said she has urged the workers to make official reports of every incident and has asked the council chief Executive Annemarie O’Donnell to ensure council officers ensure staff on the front line have enough protection when on the streets.

Union representatives said they were aware of the problem and said some members of the public were taking out their frustrations on workers.

In a letter to Annemarie O’Donnell and George Gillespie, head of neighbourhood services, Susan Aitken said the workers raised a number of issues with her.

In the letter, Aitken said: “One issue of particular concern however to myself, Cllr Casey and to frontline operatives, and one needing urgent addressal, is the reporting of increased levels of abuse, both physical and verbal, from members of the public towards staff.

“I have strongly encouraged staff to report every single incident and not to accept any form of abuse as part of their daily working life.

“I felt it important to bring this to your urgent attention because it will require both HR and operational responses.

“As their employer it is important that we make clear there should be a zero-tolerance approach to abuse of our workforce from members of the public.

“I would be grateful if management in Neighbourhoods and Regeneration Services and HR could give thought to how we strengthen policies and approaches to protect our operatives on the frontline.”

Chris Mitchell, GMB union official, said people were frustrated at changes to bin collections and workers were feeling the brunt of their anger.

He said: “Yes, it is happening. It is frustration on people’s part.

“During a transition to the three weekly collections we were told not to pick up side waste. The guys were getting abuse. Police were involved in some cases.

“We have asked the council to re-visit the three weekly collections.”