Limited trash pick-ups have restarted across the island using private companies and City of Hamilton staff, the Government said yesterday.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works said it was decided to have “outside agencies manage residential garbage collection across Bermuda” after Bermuda Industrial Union staff downed tools on Monday over what the ministry said was “concerns raised by workers”.
It is understood staff were worried after a colleague who had been overseas before self-quarantine rules were imposed returned to the job.
The decision to call up the private sector came after a meeting with the BIU and workers in the ministry’s waste management section.
The spokesman added that the private firms and city staff would cover garbage pick-up until Friday.
He said: “This decision addressed the concerns raised by the workers and ensures this essential service will immediately resume.”
The spokesman added: “The Corporation of Hamilton and private waste collection agencies will begin collecting residential garbage today, beginning in the west from Sandys to Paget parishes, and continuing through the week to the remainder of the island per the normal collection schedule.”
The spokesman said that BIU workers would resume normal service on Monday.
Michael Johnstone, the manager at Hunt’s Sanitation Services, said that the company had been contacted by the Government yesterday morning.
He added that the firm had agreed to help because the work “has to be done”.
Mr Johnstone said: “I had the capacity as quite a bit of our business is winding down.”
He added that two trucks and four collectors worked between Barnes Corner, Southampton, and Cobbs Hill Road, which borders Warwick and Paget.
Mr Johnston said that he did not know how much Hunt’s would be paid for yesterday’s work, or if the company would be working other days this week. He added: “As long as we can, we will assist.”
A spokeswoman for the City of Hamilton said that it had received a request from the Government to help.
She added: “We have always worked with each other when either organisation is experiencing operational issues and assisted when we can.”
The spokeswoman said it was the city’s responsibility to work with the Government when needed.
She added: “We have pledged our support for as long as it is required of us and as long as our resources can sustain it.”
The spokeswoman said that illegal dumping of trash from outside the city had become a problem.
She explained: “It has become evident that household trash from outside the city limits is being brought into the city and dumped on city sidewalks for collection by city sanitation crews.
“This dumping is not only illegal, but irresponsible.”
The spokeswoman said that the city would review CCTV footage and that anyone identified would be prosecuted.
She added that uncollected trash should be taken to the Tynes Bay incinerator.
The spokeswoman said: “In these unprecedented times, the city implores the public to make smart decisions, to act responsibly, and to do their part to engage in best practices as directed by the Government.”
David Burt, the Premier, thanked the firms who had stepped forward to help.
He said: “The community spirit demonstrated by these companies is to be commended.”
However, Mr Burt added: “I am extremely disappointed that the impasse did not end with Bermuda’s waste collection staff going back to work.”
The Government did not respond to questions on what caused the dispute with trash collectors, which private companies were being used and the total cost for the use of private and City of Hamilton resources.
The BIU also did not reply to a request for comment.
• UPDATE: The City of Hamilton said today that its crews are doing just one trash collection per day due to a decrease in volume. Morning crews will be collecting City trash from 6am to 1.30pm. Recycling and oil pick-up is still operating. Afternoon crews and trucks are currently assisting Government through Friday with island-wide trash collection.