Video: Minister On Garbage Collection Issues

January 31, 2018 | 85 Comments

[Updated] Minister of Public Works Lt/Col David Burch is holding a press conference this morning [Jan 31] to address the circumstances surrounding the delays with garbage collection. We will have additional coverage later on, and in the meantime the live video of Minister Burch’s press conference is below.

Update 10.37am: The press conference is over; the 25-minute live video replay is below, the Minister said the staff ‘agreed to work to rule’

Update 11.57am: The Minister said, “The main reason for the non- collection of waste over the past few days is due to an unusually high shortage of staff. Last Friday we had 40% of staff unavailable due to vacation, short & long term illness and injuries.

“Additionally, a meeting was held with the BIU and staff on Friday which lasted most of the day [therefore no trash was collected] to discuss various issues and challenges within the collection section which included the availability of vehicles, repairs, sickness, staff shortages and the proliferation of injuries.

“At the conclusion of that meeting the staff agreed to work to rule this week – which means they return to the depot for lunch and are not working overtime. As a result of this action significant delays and major disruption to scheduled collections this week has occurred.

“We are working through those issues with the Union and I have another meeting this afternoon with BIU President Furbert and we are optimistic that the issues can be resolved by the end of this week.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Good morning.

Let me begin this press conference by apologizing to the people of Bermuda for the rapid deterioration in the collection of garbage over the past few days – to say we are facing a number of challenges would be an understatement.

Challenges With Personnel & Vehicles

You will be aware from my ministerial statement in Parliament on October 20th last year that there has been an ever increasing challenge with both personnel and vehicles in the waste management section. To remind – an excerpt from that statement and I quote:

‘Mr. Speaker, garbage collection continues to be a challenge with both shortages of equipment and personnel. Regularly we have as few as 8 trucks serviceable out of a fleet of 19 – with maintenance and a shortage of parts being major factors. A study is progressing on reviewing zones, a possible transfer station, the number and type of trucks and of course the appropriate level of staffing. An initial wave of recruitment of 5 laborers is currently in train. The overtime budget has been exhausted and we will look elsewhere within the ministry to supplement this in order to keep on top of collection schedules. Like many things we have found Mr. Speaker, the budget was arbitrarily reduced last cycle from the requested amount and no consideration of the reality of the situation was planned for. Limited trucks and personnel both combine to create the need for ongoing overtime. Adding new staff, new trucks to the fleet and enhanced operating procedures will eventually lead to a significant reduction in the amount of overtime.

‘Additionally, Mr. Speaker, the section is in need of a better management structure. There is a need for more environmental/safety oversight plus an operational manager to oversee the superintendents and allow the solid waste manager to focus on strategy rather than day to day operations. The option of amalgamating this section with Tynes Bay is also being explored to provide synergy and a more comprehensive structure. The first step is to action the recommendation for a staff appointment to begin this process. Of course all these options are geared towards improved efficiency and reduced costs. ‘End quote.

Should Have 54 Staff & 19 Vehicles, But Have 40 Staff & 9 Vehicles

As an example a section that should have 54 staff and 19 serviceable vehicles – has 40 staff and 9 working vehicles on average. Clearly this is not a situation that was created in the past 6 months and some of the legacy issues are invited early retirement, freezing of posts, poor planning over the past few years, arbitrary reduction of budgets and a moratorium on hiring new staff.

Request For Additional Staff Never Executed 

That moratorium was lifted in August last year and an initial complement of 5 additional waste management staff was approved in September. When I met with the waste management section on October 11th – I informed them at that time that help was on the way.

Inexplicably – that request for additional staff was never executed – I am sure you can imagine my frustration and anger at learning only recently that some 4 months later – that decision had not been acted upon.

Rest assured we are investigating to ascertain the reason for this inordinate delay and the necessary corrective and / or disciplinary measures will be taken. Those 5 posts will be filled immediately from recent applicants and that review has commenced this morning with a view to fast tracking the actual hiring.

Staff Injuries

Additionally, the number of injuries being incurred by staff has resulted in a number of long term sick staff as well recurring injuries of other staff.

Vehicles are taken out of service for a variety of reasons that can easily be avoided if we took greater care of the items placed in household garbage – such as metal objects that when subjected to the hydraulic equipment of trash trucks can cause significant damage to them.

Main Reason For Non-Collection Over Past Days

Now, with that back ground – the main reason for the non- collection of waste over the past few days is due to an unusually high shortage of staff. Last Friday we had 40% of staff unavailable due to vacation, short & long term illness and injuries.

Additionally, a meeting was held with the BIU and staff on Friday which lasted most of the day [therefore no trash was collected] to discuss various issues and challenges within the collection section which included the availability of vehicles, repairs, sickness, staff shortages and the proliferation of injuries.

Staff To Work To Rule, Not Working Overtime

At the conclusion of that meeting the staff agreed to work to rule this week – which means they return to the depot for lunch and are not working overtime. As a result of this action significant delays and major disruption to scheduled collections this week has occurred.

Meeting With BIU

We are working through those issues with the Union and I have another meeting this afternoon with BIU President Furbert and we are optimistic that the issues can be resolved by the end of this week.

Clearly there is a significant gap in the communication chain both up and down internally as well as efficiently communicating with the public. We have implemented new protocols to mitigate against this happening again.

In the interim I encourage residents to continue to secure their waste in lidded bins in compliance with the Waste and Litter Control Act, 1987.

We Must Do Better

We as a people – ALL of us – must do better – I’d like to take this opportunity to remind the general public, to be more aware of what they put in their trash and always remember that the collection is made by hard working staff that deserve respect. So, when garbage is placed in paper bags two days before collection, open bins, it rains and the result is garbage strewn all over the neighborhoods – the workers are not picking that garbage up – it’s not their job.

Some plastic bags are like body bags, they are too heavy. When a single worker lifts more than 5 tons in a day [that’s 10,000 pounds] that’s quite a good workout I admit – but it is completely inconsiderate of those workers who have to lift them and I suspect a major contributing factor to some of the injuries staff are experiencing.

I wish I could invite members of the public to spend just 1 hour on a trash truck, as many of us in the ministry have – I guarantee you will never put your trash out the same way again and you will always have a high appreciation for those workers who collect it.

If we could just reduce our trash volume by 10% – we would save a lot of time, money and aggravation and I invite the public to review “27 Ways to Reduce Trash in Your Home” on the website here

So where are we now?

Things Will Not Get Better This Week

The bottom line is things will not get better this week – so I encourage all of us to take some pride in our own neighborhoods and not simply be irate and complain but to actually do something to help the situation.

As an example in my own neighborhood, not as the minister but as a fellow resident, I have secured a trucker to collect all the garbage on my road and deliver it to Tynes Bay and as the MP for Constituency 27 I have done the same for Cedar Hill. The Minister of Finance has approved the waiving of the tipping fees for the next week for any trucker delivering household garbage. Additionally, those on their way to work can take advantage of the extended opening hours of the public drop off.

As a reminder waste and recyclables can be dropped off at the Tynes Bay Public Drop off which is open from 7.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. on Saturday and from 1.00 p.m. – 6.00 p.m. on Sunday.

Expect To Be Able To Provide Further Update

I expect to be able to provide a further update following my meeting this afternoon with Union leadership and Public Works staff and shall keep the public informed of developments.

At the end of the day – we all have a role to play as the non-collection of garbage directly affects each of us – I prefer we focus on solutions rather than anything else.

Thank you.

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Comments (85)

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  1. inna says:

    The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round.

    So what was Burchie’s excuse?

    All i heard was that it has taken 4 months with no movement to hire 5 workers, and that the workers who fix the trash trucks are actually good at their job, but he is doing things that he should not be doing as minister, however the 706 workers at W&E are like a tanker that cannot be slowed down with the push of a button?

    • Justin says:

      It’s obvious the gov’t can’t afford to maintain the trucks and/or hire more workers. Probably better to privatize so that gov’t can cap their costs while giving the taxpaying public a better service. Simple.

      That’s not going to happen because the Unions and the PLP are two of the same.

    • If OBA didnt put ALL their effort and money to host a sailboat race for Billionaires, we wouldnt be this deep $#!+.

      • nerema says:

        When the OBA were in we got basic public services. Now we don’t. You lot have no idea how to run anything. Too stupid, if you’re any guide.

      • Justin says:

        If you want to look in the rearview mirror then the road is littered with financial mismanagement from the PLP era (pun intended!).

        We are talking about NOW. Right NOW we cannot afford to existing trash collection service so it is best to put it out to tender to get a better deal.

      • Toodle-oo says:

        You’ll never get over the fact that the AC put over 300 million into the economy , eh ?

        Oh , and you said that private trucks couldn’t pick up household trash but the Colonel is doing it .

        To use your own words .. ‘Hmmmm ?’

        • Lol says:

          So why most of the ppl on the island still suffering? Who benefited from this 300 mil, not us..just a small group as usual

          • Onionjuice says:

            You should not be suffering. The PLP was going to end that.. remember you only suffered with the OBA in power..

            • Stevie says:

              You said PLP was going to end that? When. Get your stupid head out of the sand bunion juice!

          • Ringmaster says:

            @Lol. Small contractors, ferry operators, bus drivers, plumbers, electricians, truck drivers, food stalls, charter boats, taxis, restaurants to name a few. Wall sitters and those too lazy to get off their backsides didn’t, but never will.
            How many of the ones you mention benefited from the $24 million+ spent on the PGA, or $40 million+ spent on Global Hue, or $80 million+ spent on the cruise ship piers, or $49 million+ spent on Grand Atlantic? That’s now debt that you’re paying for, and stopping new buses and garbage trucks being bought, but not new GP cars for the elite. Why don’t you care about all that?

            • Yesitsme says:

              I have a small business and we did not see a penny from the AC. My whole staff is full of hard working people. How come we were not allowed to benefit?

              • bdaboy says:

                “How come we were not allowed to benefit?”

                You were allowed. You chose not to participate, and now you whine because no one handed you a prize on a silver platter.
                Maybe you’re not as hard working as you’d like to think you are.

              • nerema says:

                You were “allowed” to benefit. Of course, you would have had to get your thumb out of your a$$ and do some work. It wasn’t a freakin welfare handout.

              • Double S says:

                Did you apply for any events? Or were you expecting them to land on your lap?

              • wahoo says:

                Did you reach out? Is your business something that could have been useful? i.e. food, transport, entertainment things like that?

      • Hey says:

        PLP purchased the smaller trucks with a big fanfare. Fault sits at their feet. These 5 people, do they exist or was that BS, because it sure sounds like BS especially after hearing Chris Furbert yesterday.

        Just more PLP nonsense, failure, lies and unwillingness to accept responsibility.

        The sailboat race was incredibly successful for the island and directly benefited and indirectly benefitted the whole island. To pretend it didn’t illustrates that you are a liar and then we have to ask why? Why do you need to lie? What is in it for you to lie?

      • Up D hill says:

        You did not just say that Onion Juice The AC generated 400 MILLION IN THIS COUNTRY its plainly obvious you cannot fathom good money from bad . Go back to jr school buddy !,

      • Kevin says:

        Onion Juice you are a dreamer ……the Dumb stupid boat race made Millions of dollars dummy,,,,,,no facts are facts no problem with trash pick up June to December but suddenly trucks break down and staff shortage ……Stevie Wonder can see through this set of excuses ….
        The PLP have never been able to manage so no surprise
        Guess what
        I didn’t vote them in

      • JAYBIRD says:

        Absolutely right – the Americas Cup ruined this country!!

  2. Joe Bloggs says:

    Ok, so the blame is on the OBA Government for not buying new trucks, for not hiring staff and for an “arbitrary” reduction in overtime budget.

    Interestingly, the Colonel’s instruction last August to hire new staff has been ignored and there will be disciplinary action as a result (maybe).

    A reorganisation of the Department is necessary (after the BIU approves any proposed changes) and the workers are currently on work-to-rule, so no overtime for them.

    The current problem is the work-to-rule and I fail to understand why the good Colonel is going back 5 years to explain the work-to-rule over the last week and a half.

  3. Dready says:

    Get used to it people. The voters voted for incompetence and this is what they will receive.Get used to it. Unemployment, inconsistent trash removal, broken buses not on schedule etc. Don’t worry, Col will drive by in his GP car as you wait for the bus that will not come. Oh, just make sure your taxes are paid, gas for the GP cars is expensive. Get used to it people!

    • Mike says:

      That is very disingenuous. These issues plagued the last administration as well. Let’s call a duck a duck and admit politicians on both sides are full of it.

  4. Ok says:

    What a bunch of garbage, literally…..lol

  5. Bill says:

    Solution?? Maybe have 3 drop off areas for trash, metal, horticultural etc. Somewhere in the West End, Tynes Bay, and East End. There is increasing amount of illegal dumping in the railway trail and Parklands due to 1-People not wanting to pay to dispose of their trash. B-Truckers finding an easy way to make a higher profit by illegally dumping instead of paying gov fees. 3. People are Lazy or its a hassle to take their trash all the way to the currently designated areas from the west or east. Just my opinion.

    • Booyah says:

      People dump on my street, which is three blocks from Tynes Bay. If you can’t even go the three blocks….

    • JAYBIRD says:

      I solved the problem by paying someone to take my trash away yesterday. I figure

  6. Truth is killin' me... says:

    Cut my own trees in my hood and don’t rely on anybody else to do it…check! Take my own trash to the incinerator…check! Walk to work and get healthy when the buses don’t come…check! TELL ME AGAIN WHY I’M PAYIN’ TAXES!!!!!!

  7. spanner breath says:

    So they cant run a simple bus schedule.
    They cant organize trash pick, but they get voted in to run the country.
    Yet we hear nothing from there supporters. Thanks again.

  8. In that time says:

    You could have picked up a couple of neighborhood’s worth of trash in the time it took you to host a press conference. Hurry up and sort this out.

  9. nerema says:

    All I know is that when the OBA were in my garbage got collected just fine.

    Now that Burch has been in charge for 7 months, suddenly the trucks (which were introduced by the previous PLP administration) are too small, the “workers” don’t want to do overtime, and they can’t find garbage collectors despite the purported thousands of unemployed Bermudians.

    Just as long as they get their 2.5% pay raise, their 70 days sick leave and their 33 days vacation.

  10. wahoo juice says:

    Man could you imagine this group running an airport? Something stinks and I guessing it ain’t just the trash.

  11. Optimism says:

    Well done Colonel. Time to weed out ineffective civil servants. Let them know too – (not just the grunts)- that it is not business as usual and you will hold them accountable!!

    • Are you kidding me? says:

      Lol,hold them accountable? That’s why the oba was voted out that’s right they were voted out because they were doing some serious sifting on gov.workers they were going to hold them accountable for those big pay checks ,so most government workers and teachers voted them out ,it had nothing to do with boat race,or the aeroporto,and until we admitted we are going no where ….yes they could had a better communication with the people cause at the end of the day ,it was the people that voted them in and they the people deserved better …Bermudians are not stupid …

  12. Mark2 says:

    Taking my trash to his driveway tonight.

  13. Lol says:

    Came here to see just how much the OBA flock forgot it was their govt fault on this issue for taking the money and resources out to fund a sail boat race to make money for their friends and family hoping to privatize this sector in their next term only to get whipped 24-12 so sarcastically highlighted by you UBP OBA or what ever your going to call yourselves next election. (Long sentence lol) but all you can do is come on here and complain about absolutely nothing. Keep the tears rolling…

    • nerema says:

      If you actually read the article, a lot of work for you I know, you will find out that the problem has arisen in the last few months. But don’t bother. Get back to your videogame and texting your friends.

    • Bill says:

      Just wondering who is in power? Oba was complaining that it was the PLPs fault for no money and now the PLP is complaining thats its the OBA’s fault for no money. Grow some balls PLP and fix the problem’s that you are elected to do.

      • Lol says:

        But it is their fault. I mean for almost 5 years we kept hearing it was all the PLP. But now when the finger is being pointed at the right ppl i.e. the OBA now it’s get on with it. The OBA had this problem back in 2014 and 2015. But more deflection

        • Bill says:

          Who cares who’s fault it is. Right now its the PLP’s turn to fix it.

        • bdaboy says:

          “But it is their fault”

          No, it’s your fault.

        • nerema says:

          Maybe if they weren’t getting 70 days sick leave a year and 33 days vacation there wouldn’t be 40% of them all off at the same time, which is what happened last week, according to Burch.

          And who is Burch blaming for this? The civil servant administrators who have been failing to do their job for the last 6 months. This morning Burch is saying “heads will roll”.

          fat chance.

    • drew says:

      You are pathetic.

    • I wonder how much trash trucks and buses we couldve got for $77-$100 Million.

      • nerema says:

        The AC cost $64m and returned $336m.

        On the other hand:
        Grand Atlantic $60m
        Swimming Pool $24m
        Re-turfing a Golf Curse $25m
        There’s $109m. Would have paid for some nice trash trucks

      • Toodle-oo says:

        Still repeating the same old 77-100 mil lie .. mmmmmmm

        Still waiting for you to cite ONE thing that your ace boys did that put over 300 mil into the economy. mmmmm

      • wahoo juice says:

        How much trash trucks would de “missing” $900M have got us.

    • Bobby Jones says:

      The problem really started back in the 80s. The UBP at the time just wanted to keep the island ticking along no matter what. Keep the Unions happy, pay what the wanted.
      Basically just try to appease the population in hopes that they would vote for them so they could stay in power.
      Same problem at the Ministry of Education, get rid of the British system of education and have our own system, lower standards for teachers and students, just appease the people.
      Look where it got us.

  14. JohnBoy says:

    Where are all the protests? Are we just gonna allow this to happen? Where’s Furbert and Tweed? Oh, wait – the PLP are in power so it’s ok with everybody. Carry on..

  15. puzzled says:

    This has been going on for years.
    The irony is it is still Front Street vs Glebe Road.

    Not the Onions anymore.

    China will be here next via Jamaica.
    Enjoy and buy lots of fishhooks and line.
    Your gonna need em.

  16. Onion Peel says:

    Which Bermudians do the government care about? The civil servants or the taxpayers that fund them? We will see. I wouldn’t mind change in how trash is collected, it may lead to more necessary changes in our lifestyles.

  17. Rocky5 says:

    July 18th 2018 – 24 -12 – the tail is back in charge of the dog. PLP/BIU/PC plan to “grow our economy” – just hire more Govt. workers & borrow more money!!!

  18. inna says:

    The only tears that are going to be rolling will be down the faces of the supporters who voted this inept PLP government in! 6 months in, and all they have done is give a raise to all the workers, reverse SSM and blame everything else on the OBA.

    Did you watch Burt and Furbert last night at their pre-budget report meeting? I had more questions at the end of it than at the beginning! He said multiple times that the budget is not set and he is soliciting ideas to get the economy growing!! And this is YOUR finance minister and premier who is save the island from collapse?!?

    I would say come talk to us OBA supporters in 5 years, but it wont make any difference when half of the islands population is out of work!

    I hope you are saving up every last penny you can, because dont even think about being able to collect a pension!!

  19. Mark says:

    Im dropping mine off at the BIU. Whos with me?

  20. Y-Gurl says:

    Well if there’s one guy who can talk garbage it’s this guy, the term “minister” of anything for this one sends shivers down my back!

  21. the only that stinks more than the garbage says:

    Is Burch’s angle and approach–blame blame blame–how about a solution sir.

    Asking people who pay for the service to:

    “We as a people – ALL of us – must do better”

    You Sir, your cabinet and colleagues in Government MUST do better–don’t talk down to us–I don’t see you on the trash truck. Sad man..

    What a disgrace.

  22. King Jammys says:

    Calm down Blockchain will handle all of this………….

  23. SpinCycle says:

    Oh its not just so they can collect overtime pay when collecting at 8pm… huh!

  24. Triangle Drifter says:

    So, there we have it. It is not our fault. It is all the OBA’s fault. Oh, that $600,000 per day finance charges that have to be paid before anything else because of the debt that we the previous PLP Government ran up? Oh, we don’t want to talk about that. We could buy 2 new trash trucks a day if it were not for that debt. Yes, we said we had all of the answers back in July but you have to understand that we had to deceive you…again. You are stuck with us for another 4 1/2 years. HA! Got voters remorse yet like that lot to the west of us?

  25. Common Sense says:

    OJ you are absurd in failing to understand the benefit of the America’s Cup to Bermuda. It was a good investment, and has created much more money that can be spent on things such as buses or trash trucks rather than less. Let me simplify it for you so that you can understand. It is the equivalent of a fisherman investing $64.00 on bait and fuel and then going out and catching $300.00 worth of fish; a good return on his money spent. Surely you can understand this!

  26. What??? says:

    They find money to hire trucks to pick up christmas trees but can not hire trucks to pick up the trash, smh.

  27. Bobby Jones says:

    Why oh why can we not recognize that the whole problem is mismanagement of the W&E, Bus service and Ferries,
    They can not keep the fleets running because of poor maintenance due to poor staff and no parts because no one ordered.
    It really doesn’t make any difference what party is in power.
    We are now joined the list of 3rd world countries.

  28. Me says:

    Why are people being negative towards our Labour Party? They won what do u want?

  29. PLP or OBA who cares! says:

    Trash Collectors work hard. Just follow one of the trucks, they work nonstop, there is no standing on the side of the road or sitting down. They are on and off the trucks, lifting and throwing the trash, directing traffic….. Honestly, they do an essential job and amazing one too! But we cannot expect them to continue to work short staffed, without enough trucks under an ineffective management structure. I wish people would stop blaming the workers, blame the higher ups who allowed this situation to occur. I’m not a blue collar worker but let me tell you as far as I’m concerned they are overworked and underpaid. I appreciate you every time I see the trash truck drive down my street! Sometimes people have to take a stand! Time for change, to the government let’s sort this out once and for all!

  30. Up D hill says:

    This Government is already failing the simplest of issues trash collection. Burch is riddled with excuses and has no answers. Not surprised he gets worse with age.

  31. cpm says:

    If the OBA were still in charge we would have had marches led by Tweed and Furbert.
    The good thing is that we are no longer paying overtime for trash collections
    Time to go private with Hunt who is running Tynes Bay

  32. facts of the rock says:

    the plp are finished and it’s time to collect them in the trash trucks from de house on de hill.

  33. Zevon says:

    perhaps they could use their shiny new expensive cars to pick up the trash.
    Do something frikkin useful for once.

  34. Me says:

    A government failure to provide taxpayer services is not a time to talk down and lecture to them doing better etc
    It’s like standing there and singing John Lennon’s imagine it ain’t gonna happen sunshine

  35. Seascape says:

    It is all starting again from when PLP was last in power. Road sides look disgusting…Middle Road from Flatts to ZBM are terrible. Trash not collected. Buses not running and the list goes on and on. Get your act together and spend money where it is necessary. With Bermudians unemployed, no reason why they cannot be hired to work. Bermuda is another world….

  36. Oscar de Grouch says:

    All these excuses sound like a load of garbage to me.

  37. Sara says:

    Make recycling mandatory and pick up trash once per week. Usually that’s all we get anyway!

  38. Malachi says:

    …….just more trash-talk!! :(

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