The Government will today be hit by the biggest strike over pay since it came to power when over a million public sector workers will walk out in bitter disputes over pay, pensions, jobs and spending cuts. Home helps, lollipop men and women, refuse collectors, librarians, dinner ladies, parks attendants, council road safety officers, caretakers and cleaners will be joined by teachers, firefighters, civil servants and transport workers. Read more >>
The scene is a street in Bury (pronounced 'berry'), a town just north of Manchester. The wheelie bins and dustbins are full, and there are bags of rubbish (or bin bags) all over the place. Rats can be seen on the road. A man comments to a woman, "Our dustmen aren't on strike — they only collect the rubbish once every three weeks!"
The cartoon by Paul Thomas from the Daily Express links the public sector workers' strike with reports that local residents in Bury will become the first in the country to see their rubbish collections fall from every two weeks to every three as the nation needs to increase its recycling rates to meet EU laws.
Dustman is an informal word for a man whose job is to collect the rubbish from outside people's houses. Other informal terms include binman and rubbish man. The more formal/official (and gender neutral!) term (used in job ads, etc.) is refuse collector. The American word is garbage collector. See here for more on this vocabulary area.