COP26: City refuse workers set to go on strike during climate change summit, union says

Refuse workers have threatened to go on strike during Cop26 over a pay dispute.

Members of GMB in Glasgow have voted in favour of industrial action during the summit, which is expected to draw about 30,000 people to the city.

A total of 96.9% of those asked voted for a strike to take place if there is not an improved offer from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla).

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Last month, 95% of those asked in a GMB Scotland ballot rejected Cosla's £850-a-year increase for staff earning up to £25,000 a year.

COP26: City refuse workers set to go on strike during climate change summit, union saysCOP26: City refuse workers set to go on strike during climate change summit, union says
COP26: City refuse workers set to go on strike during climate change summit, union says

Members in Glasgow are now set to go on strike when the city will be welcoming world leaders for the climate change summit if the pay dispute is not resolved.

Chris Mitchell, of GMB, called on the Scottish Government and Cosla to take more action.

Speaking with members of Glasgow's Bridgeton and Queenslie depots gathered behind him, he said: "We have a clear message to the Scottish Government and Cosla.

"We were called Covid heroes and essential workers.

"This is when low-paid workers take a stand against Cosla and say enough is enough, because these heroes here deserve a pay rise.

"Stand with us, not against us."

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In a post on Twitter, a spokesperson for GMB Glasgow said: "In Glasgow we have reached the legal threshold in our Industrial Action Ballot.

"Unless there is an improved offer on Monday we will be taking action in Glasgow during COP 26."

Commenting on GMB refuse workers voting to strike during Cop26, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: "This overwhelming mandate must be a wake-up call for Cosla and the Scottish Government to start taking these negotiations more seriously.

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"Scotland is set to be humiliated on the world stage because of the SNP's complete disregard for workers.

"Everything from refuse collection to public transport will be plunged into chaos during Cop26 if they do not stand up for workers fighting for fair pay and conditions."

The call for industrial action comes after Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken was criticised for saying the city needs a "spruce up" before the Cop26 conference.

Her comments received a backlash from politicians and members of the public who claimed she was "out of touch" with the city.

Mr Sawar added: "Glasgow's refuse workers have gone above and beyond to try and keep the city's growing waste crisis under control, and in return they are being treated with contempt by Susan Aitken's SNP administration.

"The SNP must intervene to get these workers the deal they deserve and resolve the myriad of industrial disputes threatening to overshadow Cop26."

Cosla has been contacted for comment.

Rail workers will go on strike during Cop26, the RMT union confirmed on Thursday.

ScotRail staff will strike from Monday November 1 until Friday November 12.

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Staff on the Caledonian Sleeper will hold two 24-hour strikes - one from 11.59am on Sunday October 31 and one on Thursday November 11, also from 11.59am.

The industrial action centres on a dispute over pay and conditions.

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