03 November 2021

Glasgow’s striking cleansing staff supported by Cop26 activists

03 November 2021

A trade unionist leading the Glasgow cleansing service strikes has said investing in the service is an environmental issue as climate activists in the city for Cop26 joined striking workers on the picket line.

Climate activists and delegates, as well as international trade union representatives, joined the city’s striking cleansing workers at the western depot in Kelvinhaugh Street on Wednesday.

Chris Mitchell, GMB convenor for refuse and cleansing, welcomed their support and said that making sure services were funded properly was an environmental issue.

Rubbish is left beside a no fly tipping sign in Glasgow (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

“It is an environmental issue, cleansing, we deal in recycling obviously and food waste,” he said.

“It’s just unfortunate that cuts over the last 10 years, probably more so over the last four years, have been absolutely horrendous.

“If you care about the environment you have got to invest in services, but unfortunately Glasgow are just making horrendous efficiency savings as they call them, but we call them nothing more than cuts.”

The climate activists and international trade unionists stood shoulder to shoulder with them on the picket line in support of the workers’ calls for value and investment so they can tackle Glasgow’s waste crisis and deliver cleaner, greener communities.

Mr Mitchell claimed it was taking “months, if not years” to replace workers and said the situation in the city was becoming an “environmental catastrophe”.

Sara Shaw, climate justice and energy programme co-coordinator for Friends of the Earth International, said: “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.”

And TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Climate justice and social justice go hand in hand.

“While Glasgow hosts the climate summit, the key workers who keep Glasgow clean are not getting the fair pay and conditions they deserve.”

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said at around £100 million spent each year, environmental protection is the city’s biggest budget after education and social care.

“Waste collection and disposal account for the vast majority of those costs – and we’re spending £14 million more than we were five years ago. We’re also currently investing in more staff, new bins and a more modern, cleaner fleet,” the spokesman said.

“Meanwhile, the GMB is demanding the city rolls back efforts to prioritise recycling and waste reduction.”

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