RATS are feasting on heaps of rotting rubbish piled high in the streets of affluent Brighton as bin men strike.
Shock pictures show residents walking a grim path through overflowing bins piled 10 feet high as unions warn the misery will continue for another five weeks.
The strike is only in its seventh day – raising fears the city could become a hygiene danger before the situation is resolved.
Union reps from GMB recently stormed out of a meeting with the Green-led council after turning down its latest pay offer.
They left the talks before officers had finished setting out their proposal, Brighton and Hove News reports.
Bin men working for firm Cityclean had planned to return to work to clear the streets before striking again between October 21 and November 3.
However, they now say they won't be returning until the middle of next month.
Refuse truck drivers voted to strike last month over changes to bins rounds and other variations to their duties.
Councillor Hannah Clare, deputy leader of the council, said higher pay had been offered in a "positive attempt to recognise the hard work" of bin men.
“We’re disappointed that the GMB walked out of the room before discussing this offer with us," she said.
“We believe that discussion is crucial. Only by staying around the table can a good outcome can be reached, both for staff and for residents of our city."
Council officials called their offer "significant and generous" and urged GMB to think again.
But Mark Turner, general secretary of the union's Sussex branch, said the latest offer had “gone backwards” from the previous one and accused the council of issuing “propaganda”.
'GMB IS TOO POWERFUL'
“They presented their offer which we left on the basis it’s gone backwards. It’s worse than the situation we started in," he said.
“They need to improve the offer.
"They’re not even meeting us halfway.”
Meanwhile, those living in the city have spoken of their shock and disgust at the "stench".
And they warned "powerful" unions are holding all the cards.
The stench is absolutely appalling
One resident said: "The piles of rubbish are growing daily and the stench is absolutely appalling.
"The GMB is hugely powerful in Brighton and Hove and it is holding the council over a barrel yet again."
Another added: "This is a public health risk and, on this basis alone, there should be decisive intervention.
"I saw rats scurrying away from overflowing bins in Hove.
"Another lamentable failure by officialdom in this city."
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