COP26 activists join pickets to urge Glasgow City Council to “value and respect” cleansing staff

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COP26 climate activists will join striking cleansing workers on Wednesday 3 November.

What’s happening? Workers from Glasgow’s cleansing service, climate activists and international trade unionists will be on a picket line at the city’s Western Depot tomorrow morning (Wednesday 3 November) as a third day of strike action gets underway.

Glasgow’s cleansing workers are on strike over the local government pay offer. Their campaign has called for Scottish Government intervention to start reversing more than a decade of cuts to the service, and for the Council to respect and value them as key workers.

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GMB tabled proposals to the council to reset industrial relations and move forward together to tackle the city’s decline, but these were rejected ahead of the first day of the strike action on Monday.

Now COP26 activists and delegates, and international trade union representatives will join striking workers on the picket lines, supporting their calls for value and investment so they can tackle Glasgow’s waste crisis and deliver cleaner, greener communities.

Why it matters: The workers are striking to secure a better pay rise for all low paid local government workers. Unless an agreement can be reached, Glasgow’s bin will go un-emptied with concerns about fire safety in high rise flats. During the strike, Glaswegians have been told not to put their bins out.

GMB Scotland Organiser Sean Baillie said: “We are delighted COP26 climate campaigners and fellow trade unionists from across the world are standing with us to support our strike – the camaraderie and solidarity is growing by the day. But the council and the government need to realise that if we want cleaner communities and sustainable services, then we must invest in the green jobs we need and the workers who deliver them.”

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Sara Shaw, Climate Justice & Energy Programme Co-coordinator for Friends of the Earth International, added: “We are proud to stand alongside workers fighting for fair pay and decent working conditions. Refuse workers in Glasgow are demonstrating the power we must build everywhere to tackle the climate crisis at its roots.”

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Climate justice and social justice go hand in hand. But while Glasgow hosts the climate summit, the key workers who keep Glasgow clean are not getting the fair pay and conditions they deserve.”

The message was reinforced by one of the world’s most senior trade unionists, Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary added: “Council workers provide vital services for clean cities, and they deserve the respect of just wages.”

Mick Lynch, RMT General Secretary, warned: “The Scotrail dispute might have been settled but these key workers are being treated appallingly by Glasgow City Council. RMT express full solidarity and support for the strike action GMB members in Glasgow cleansing services are taking during COP26 and urge Nicola Sturgeon to broker a settlement that meets their demands.”

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Romain Descottes and Raphael Tillie from the CGT, France’s largest union, said: “The struggle workers are leading is similar as what our unions are doing in almost every sector of the working class, where bad work conditions and a lack of recognition are making their rules. Without workers’ voice, without workers’ decisions on how and what to produce, and without dignified working conditions, the fight against climate change won’t be able to succeed.”

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