Glasgow school support staff could strike during COP26

School support staff are planning to strike alongside bin workers during COP26, after pay talks stalled.

Glasgow school support workers could be going on strike.

Cleaners, janitors and catering staff represented by the GMB have voted in favour of industrial action, which would see them walk out when world leaders are in Glasgow for the climate summit.

The union balloted cleansing workers and school support staff across the country, and those employed by Glasgow City Council have backed action if the pay dispute isn’t resolved.

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GMB convenor Chris Mitchell said: “The eyes of the world will be on Glasgow during COP26, and our politicians now have a choice — will they fairly reward the frontline workers who got the country through the pandemic, or will they risk embarrassing the city and the country on an international stage?”

It was revealed last week that refuse workers are set to strike during the conference, which runs from October 31 to November 12, and now the GMB has said schools support staff could join them.

The pay talks are being held with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) — which says “constructive negotiations” are continuing.

GMB Scotland represents close to 900 workers in Glasgow’s refuse and cleansing service and around 600 in the city’s schools, where the members provide cleaning, janitorial and catering services.

Mr Mitchell said: “Over the past 18 months throughout this awful pandemic, essential services across Scotland have been held together by an army of low paid workers.

“We were called key workers, even Covid heroes, but while politicians were happy to applaud us on Thursday nights, they’ve never put their hands in their pockets to pay us properly.

“The message that our members have sent with this ballot result is clear. We are taking a stand for what we deserve, and we believe the people will stand with us.”

Last month, 95 per cent of members who participated in the GMB’s consultative ballot turned down an £850 increase for local government staff earning up to £25,000 a year.

The union the moved to the full industrial ballot of members employed in schools, local refuse and cleansing services across Scotland.

The GMB said refuse workers would walk out if they did not receive an improved pay offer by Monday.

The COSLA spokesman 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 ongoing constructive negotiations.”

Although pay talks are taking place at a national level, Glasgow City Council has urged workers to “think again”.

A spokesman said: “The union has not made clear what action it intends to take so it’s impossible to say what the impact will be.

“However 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 on pursuit of a national campaign. We urge them to think again about the timing of this.”