COP26 strike action: Susan Aitken is wrong. It's union militants, not Margaret Thatcher, who are the problem – John McLellan

Only a few months after announcing it would be nationalising ScotRail, the Scottish government got a taste of what it’s like to deal with the militants of the RMT rail union.

Unions had threatened to strike during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow (Picture: Michael Gillen)
Unions had threatened to strike during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow (Picture: Michael Gillen)

Knowing Glasgow’s already creaking road network will be gridlocked due to diversions around the COP26 conference zone, it was the perfect opportunity to cause maximum embarrassment as thousands of delegates staying outside the city centre struggle to reach the SEC, many of them coming over from Edinburgh.

When the takeover of the Abellio franchise was announced in March it must have seemed like a good idea, but although the hand-over is not complete the dispute has thrust ministers onto one side of the negotiations.

The rejection of an offer worth 4.7 per cent over two years was, according to transport minister Graeme Day, a “perplexing and deeply disappointing situation” but should have been no surprise given the RMT’s track record.

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COP26: Plans to stop ScotRail strikes ‘not optimistic’ says SNP transport minist...

So “pitiful”, in the words of RMT Scotland organiser Mick Lynch, was the offer that it had been accepted by the other three rail unions; however, it was accepted by the RMT at the last minute with only minor concessions.

There is nothing this union likes more than turning the screw but now it's government ministers’ thumbs which get the treatment.

With bin crews also set to strike, the deluded Glasgow SNP leader Susan Aitken has tried to blame the city’s problems on Margaret Thatcher, when it was such militancy in the Winter of Discontent which ushered her in.

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With nationalised services, every dispute is political because it ultimately lands on a politician’s desk; left-wingers should be careful what they wish for.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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