COP26: Scouring Glasgow on a hunt for laden bins as world leaders arrive for climate talks

First impressions of Glasgow at the crack of dawn on the first day of the leaders’ summit at COP26 were pretty good.

The weather was dry, if a bit chilly, but a big change from the wild conditions that halted trains and disrupted journeys to the city on Sunday for thousands of people attending the conference.

And it wasn’t at all obvious the local refuse staff and street cleaners were on strike.

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I took a mini walking tour around the city centre, before making my way along the Clyde to the Scottish Events Campus to join the queue to get in.

There were the usual boxes and bags of commercial waste set out on kerbsides, awaiting collection by contracted services.

But all the litter bins I looked into – and it was many, with my activities beginning to attract funny looks from passers-by – were empty or pretty close to it.

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There were the usual stray bits of rubbish blowing around. Fast food boxes, the odd chip wrapper, fag butts, a bottle or two – Irn-Bru, naturally – and a pair of pineapple shades.

Glasgow city centre was looking fairly spick and span, with only a scattering of rubbish flying around, as COP26 - and bin worker strikes - got underway on Monday

Things were a wee bit worse up some less-travelled lanes and down near the main entrance for COP26, but nothing that would hint at a bin strike. Not yet at least.

As a stranger in town, I flagged down a friendly binman – everyone in Glasgow is friendly – who was out in his truck collecting business waste.

I asked him about the industrial action and the state of the city.

He said ‘aye, it doesn’t look too bad here today. George Square’s all tidy. But let’s wait and see what it looks like in a couple of days. And you might want to have a look outside the city centre – that’s probably not so pretty’.

Away from Glasgow centre, there was a bit more litter evident

The planned strike action was previously called off last Friday after a new pay offer from the council umbrella body Cosla.

But on Sunday the GMB union told Glasgow City Council that members of the city’s cleansing service will strike for a week from a minute past midnight on Monday.

GMB Scotland secretary Louise Gilmour accused Glasgow City Council of having “failed to give our members the proper time and space to consider the 11th-hour offer from Cosla”.

Someone is probably looking for these distinctive shades - they're down by the Clyde

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