COP26: RMT union's plan to strike during Glasgow climate summit is a disgrace – Scotsman comment

Eight days to COP26: Cynical attempts by trade unions to use the UN climate summit to win better conditions for their members demonstrate a lack of care or understanding about just how important this meeting is.

Described recently as humanity’s “last best chance” by US climate envoy John Kenny, the signs to date are hardly encouraging. So anything that puts obstacles in the way of delegates as they try to map out a route to net-zero carbon emissions could end up having profound consequences for the entire world.

Four unions representing rail workers had threatened industrial action but Aslef and the TSSA have now accepted a pay offer, while Unite is balloting its members with a recommendation to settle.

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However, the RMT union still plans to go ahead with its COP26 strike. According to Transport Scotland, issues relating to “rest-day working” are the main sticking point. Even if the RMT had justice entirely on their side, this would in no way justify disrupting the summit.

The other unions appear to have played their hand well, if cynically; the RMT seems intent on over-playing theirs.

Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, has appealed to Nicola Sturgeon to personally intervene to settle the dispute, saying the “clock is ticking” to the start of the summit.

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He added it was “frankly disgraceful” that rather than hold “meaningful talks to bring about a fair resolution to these disputes”, the Scottish government had chosen not to get involved.

The RMT union plans to go on strike, disrupting ScotRail services during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

He might not be so keen on interventions in this comparatively trivial dispute by other political leaders.

The world’s poorest countries need the developed world – responsible for the vast majority of the carbon emissions that have caused global warming – to agree to provide sufficient funds to help them transition to a net-zero carbon economy and adapt to the new climate.

Some of these countries are already experiencing the deadly storms, droughts and floods that are among the worst effects of global warming, a problem they did not cause and cannot afford to face alone.

Their leaders come to Glasgow, a city largely built by the Industrial Revolution, in the hope that “meaningful talks” will lead to a “fair resolution”. For many of their citizens, this could be a matter of life or death.

What would you say to them, Mr Lynch?

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