Councillor bids to prevent strike action ‘casting a spell’ over COP26

Cleansing workers are set to take industrial action during the summit.

Councillor bids to prevent strike action ‘casting a spell’ over COP26 Alexey Rezvykh via iStock
The GMB Union say that COSLA has disregarded key workers.

A Glasgow councillor is urging every party member to come together to prevent strike action from council staff “casting a spell” over COP26.

It comes after it was confirmed that the city’s cleansing workers will take industrial action on November 1 for eight days over pay and working conditions.

School janitorial and catering staff also said they could walk out if the situation wasn’t resolved by COSLA. 

Conservative group leader, councillor Thomas Kerr, said that the situation should never have been left to reach a stage where workers felt they had no choice but to go on strike.

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Kerr said: “Our cleansing staff have been left to be attacked by rats and simply haven’t been fully resourced to ensure people’s bins have been collected. 

“It should never have reached a stage where cleansing staff feel the need to strike during a major summit. 

“There is an urgent need for all parties to get round the table again to avoid this casting a shadow over COP26.”

SNP workforce convenor councillor Alan Casey added that while their group supports the rights of workers to take industrial action, he hopes to see a fair outcome for everyone.

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He said: “The SNP group fully support the right of all unions to take industrial action and would like to again thank all those who have worked so hard through the most difficult period that local government and the country has faced in living memory. 

“While the negotiations on the pay settlement are carried out by COSLA at a national level we hope to see a fair outcome that recognises the work done by all Council staff.”

More than 900 members of the GMB union voted to strike last week and gave local authority body COSLA until Monday to table an improved pay offer.

GMB workers say they are standing up for themselves and their working rights.

Convenor Chris Mitchell said: “COSLA has totally disregarded key workers over the last 14 months. We now feel we have no other option but to take strike action.

“We have been on depot visits speaking to 900 hundred GMB members and the solidarity camaraderie is getting stronger and stronger. The workforce is angry about this, the shocking facilities and poor working conditions.

“COP26 will go down in history but for the right reasons where low paid workers stood for what they deserve.”

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COSLA says it will continue it’s ongoing talks with the trade unions.

A 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.”

Glasgow City Council has also urged the union to think again.

A 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.”

By Local Democracy reporter Catherine Hunter