01 November 2021

Glasgow bin collectors walk out on strike during Cop26

01 November 2021

Bin collectors and street cleaners have walked out on strike as Glasgow hosts world leaders for the Cop26 summit, amid a row between a union and the city council.

GMB members walked out at one minute past midnight on Monday following the collapse of last-ditch talks between the union and Glasgow City Council on Sunday evening.

More than 100 world leaders are expected to arrive in Glasgow on Monday as the first day of the two-day world leaders’ summit takes place at the Cop26 UN climate conference.

The planned strike action was previously called off on Friday after a new pay offer from council umbrella body Cosla, and the GMB said it would suspend the strike for two weeks to consult with members.

However, following talks on Sunday, the GMB said strike action would go ahead.

GMB Scotland secretary Louise Gilmour said: “We met the council in good faith, offering a clear set of proposals to reset industrial relations and avoid strikes. The council rejected these proposals.”

She added: “Regrettably, the council refused this massive opportunity to move forward, and strike action across the cleansing service will now begin, during which time our members will be balloted on the Cosla pay offer.”

The union said workers will take strike action throughout the first full week of the Cop26 summit.

The GMB was calling for a £2,000 pay rise and previously turned down an offer of an £850-a-year increase for staff earning up to £25,000.

The Cosla proposal tabled on Friday is for a one-year, 5.89% increase for the lowest paid council staff, as part of a £1,062 rise for all staff earning below £25,000.

The Scottish Government gave £30 million to support the offer.

It is very disappointing the GMB has opted for this course of action

A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said on Monday: “The agreement struck at national level gave two weeks to consider the pay offer and so there is no reason for this strike to go ahead at this time. It is very disappointing the GMB has opted for this course of action.

“We have already agreed their request for time to meet with their members. And, while we remain available to meet with them at any time, we are unable to deliver their request for a pay increase.

“That is part of a national negotiation and a new deal was tabled by Cosla last week.

“It appeared that GMB, along with the other unions, had agreed to suspend the strike until national consultation was complete and it is very disappointing they have reneged on that agreement and have not given us the required 14 days’ notice after they publicly announced the suspension on Friday.”

Asked about the strike, Scotland’s Transport and Net Zero Secretary, Michael Matheson, said: “It is disappointing, although the Scottish Government was not party to what is a national negotiation between local authorities and Cosla.

“My understanding was last Friday that the three unions – Unite, Unison and GMB – agreed to withdraw their industrial action in order to consider the offer that has been made by Cosla, which was assisted by additional funding from the Scottish Government.

“The GMB locally have entered into a dispute now with Glasgow City Council which I understand is not to do with the actual package itself but it’s the process around being able to engage with their members and discuss that with them.”

Mr Matheson told the BBC Good Morning Scotland programme: “I understand that discussions were taking place last night and the Scottish Government would certainly want to continue to encourage both Cosla, Glasgow City Council and the GMB to continue to discuss this issue to try and find a quick resolution to what I believe is a process issue rather than issue around the deal that was proposed.”

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