'Unbearable' Birmingham bin strike could continue until Christmas
The threat of a bin strike continuing until Christmas would be "unbearable", Birmingham residents have told Sky News.
The piles of rubbish that have mounted up in some parts of the city have led to a feeding frenzy for rats, maggots, flies and other vermin.
Birmingham City Council has offered to take the long-running negotiations over the strike to ACAS, but the Unite union has confirmed that they are now considering balloting to extend the strike action, possibly until Christmas.
The council has accused the union of "holding the city to ransom".
The news was met with dismay among the Birmingham residents who still have piles of uncollected rubbish rotting on their streets.
Javed Iqbal, of the Alum Rock Community Forum, told Sky News: "We can't take any more days, let alone months - if it goes on 'til Christmas it will be unbearable."
"People are ready to get on the streets and do something about it. Christmas seems like a million miles away."
The ongoing crisis - with mountains of rubbish dubbed "rat hotels" - has become a major public health hazard.
Birmingham City Council had promised to clear the backlog of uncollected bin bags by Friday.
Mr Iqbal said: "It is disgusting, dangerous and we won't stand for it any longer.
"People are taking rubbish to the tips themselves but it isn't enough - it stinks.
"The council and the unions are as bad as each other. It has to be sorted out."
The dispute between binmen and Birmingham City Council centres on job losses and changes to the service. It has meant some areas have not had bin collections for six weeks.
If anything, the row deepened this week after unions revised strike times, which will result in even fewer official collections being made.
Father-of-four Wayne McLeod showed Sky News the dozens of black smear marks on his walls - where he has killed large flies that are now invading his Small Heath home every day.
The 42-year-old forklift truck driver said: "Every morning I have another six invading my home. Those mammoth flies that we have are carrying infection from month-old garbage.
"They are coming in and piercing my skin and I have pus coming out of my hands."
Ian Sharpe, who runs Environmental Pest Control in the north of Birmingham, told Sky News the piles of rubbish are a feeding bonanza for rodents and other vermin.
He said: "They can eat and drink until their heart's content so it is like a rat hotel.
"A happy rat is going to breed more often and their litters are going to be bigger.
"They can have anything up to 14 babies in any one go and in five weeks those rats are sexually active."
Birmingham City Council says it has collected bins on more than 75% of roads, however this has been branded as "lies" by many residents.
The strike action is expected to continue each working day until 1 September at least.