GMB leaders criticize Susan Aitken over pre-COP26 rat comments

Union leaders have condemned comments made yesterday by Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken, who dismissed concerns over an alleged rat infestation in the COP26 host city.

GMB, which represents the majority of the city's cleansing staff, said council leader Susan Aitken's comments were "just wrong".

Ms Aitken was questioned yesterday by a committee of MPs, and was asked about reports that employees had to go to hospital after coming into contact with vermin while collecting bins.

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Ms Aitken said there had been "one, possibly two" incidents, involving "minor contact with a rat" and the staff were taken to hospital as a "precaution".

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Chris Mitchell, GMB Convenor for Refuse and Cleansing, responded to Aitken’s comments on Good Morning Scotland, and said: “If anyone’s attacked by a rat, it’s no small incident”.

Mitchell claimed that two Glasgow bin-men have been scratched by rats while working, while a further two have been bit.

He noted that refuse and cleansing workers had been sent to hospital for treatment, and added: “At the end of the day, if you’re sent to hospital, then it’s not minor – it’s obviously quite serious".

Susan Aitken, the leader of Glasgow City Council, giving evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee.

GMB Scotland Secretary Louise Gilmour also expressed her displeasure with Aitken’s comments, and said: "It's just wrong to describe rat-related incidents as 'minor contact'.

"Our members encounter them every day and some have been attacked".

"This shouldn't be downplayed, it should be confronted".

In yesterday’s meeting, Aitken claimed that the rat problem “is not something that is unique to Glasgow”, and said: “All cities have rats”.

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