Bin workers and school support staff confirm strike during COP26

GMB union says strike action will last for seven days during climate change conference in Glasgow.

Bin workers and school support staff confirm strike during COP26 iStock
Strike: Bin workers won't work for seven days during COP26.

Bin workers and school support staff in Glasgow will go on strike for seven days during the COP26 climate change conference.

The strike action comes after pay talks stalled with Cosla, the umbrella body that represents each of Scotland’s local authorities.

School cleaners and cooks are set to join bin workers on strike, which could disrupt the climate summit taking place at the Scottish Event Campus from October 31 to November 12.

GMB members rejected a £850-a-year increase for staff earning up to £25,000 a year from local authority umbrella body Cosla, with the union – along with Unison and Unite – all calling for a £2000 pay rise.

GMB Scotland senior organiser Drew Duffy said: “Following Cosla’s failure to table an improved pay offer for our local government workers, GMB has served Glasgow City Council with statutory notice for industrial action in the cleansing service.

“This will be a seven-day strike action, starting at 12.01am on Monday, November 1 and ending at 11.59pm on Monday, November 8, coinciding with the COP26 international climate conference.

“Further notices will be served on more councils later this week. If strike action is to be avoided, then a significantly improved offer must be brought forward to give our key workers proper value.”

GMB say 96.9% of returned ballots in Glasgow were in favour of strike action.

The union represents close to 900 workers in Glasgow’s refuse and cleansing service and a further 600 across Glasgow schools providing cleaning, janitorial and catering services.

Cosla said negotiations are ongoing.

A Cosla spokesperson said: “We appreciate everything that local government workers have been doing, and continue to do, to support people and communities during the pandemic and as we begin to recover.

“We continue with on-going constructive negotiations.”

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “These are national, rather than local, pay negotiations and it is difficult to understand why this step has been taken while those negotiations remain ongoing.

“COP will undoubtedly be a busy and difficult time for the city and its residents. Holding this action only in Glasgow at this time will have disproportionate and unfair local impact in pursuit of a national campaign. We urge them to think again about the timing of this.”

Rail workers will also go on strike during COP26, the RMT union confirmed on Thursday, over a separate dispute over pay and conditions.

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

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.