Glasgow City Council’s refuse workers have been striking since November 1.
It was revealed yesterday that Glasgow City Council is planning to use private contractors to cover for striking workers due to “significant” fire risks on Bonfire Night.
Labour MSP Paul Sweeney said threatening to “union bust by using anti-trade union laws and bussing in private contractors to try to break the strike is disgraceful and a paltry short-term fix to this long-running dispute”.
He added: “If the First Minister agrees with this position, will she please intervene and provide the leadership that has been sorely lacking so far.”
In response, the First Minister said: “The things that Paul Sweeney talks about would be disgraceful if they were happening, but they’re not.
“The council do have a concern about Bonfire Night posing an additional fire risk if rubbish is not collected, so what they are considering is cover to mitigate these risks.
“What they are not considering is using contractors to fulfil the regular duties of striking staff.”
Glasgow’s SNP group has claimed it supports “entirely the right to engage in strike activity” but believes there is a risk to public safety on November 5.
Cllr Allan Casey said: “As it does every year, Bonfire Night poses a significant fire risk. The risk to public safety increases considerably if uncollected rubbish is a factor, particularly at certain types of domestic properties.”
He added the council would “rather this cover could be provided by non-striking council staff” and the use of contractors would not be necessary if the GMB could give that reassurance.
His statement followed calls from the GMB for council leader Susan Aitken to either “step up or step aside”.
At Holyrood, Glasgow MSP Sweeney asked what is the Scottish Government’s response to the strike action during COP26.
The First Minister said: “I recognise and appreciate the extraordinary efforts of the council workers at all times but particularly over the past 18 months.
“That is why although the Scottish Government has no formal role in the local government pay negotiations, we supported efforts to find a solution with a one-off offer of additional funding of £30m.”
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) submitted a new local government pay offer on Friday, and unions agreed to suspend strike action so their members could vote on the deal.
However, GMB workers in Glasgow’s cleansing department decided on Sunday to continue with their planned action.
Sturgeon said it was “disappointing” the GMB in Glasgow had chosen to pursue strike action but “I respect their right to do so”.
“I would urge all parties in Glasgow to quickly find a resolution,” she added.
The council has said it called off legal action, taken due to “concerns regarding the information supplied to the council about the ballot”, on Friday, after COSLA had come up with a new offer and strikes had been suspended.
Sturgeon said: “I have the utmost respect for cleansing workers in Glasgow. That’s why I do hope that Glasgow City Council and the union can get round the table and find a resolution that puts an end to this and allows industrial relations to move forward positively.”