A group of trade unions is calling for targeted industrial action during COP26 as part of a long-running dispute.

By Bill Heaney

Unions representing rail and council workers have confirmed plans for strike action during the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow.

Cleaners, refuse and recycling workers are among staff who could take industrial action from 8 November.

Jackie Baillie MSP for Dumbarton, Helensburgh and Vale of Leven,  said:  “Thousands of local people across West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute are now facing serious disruption to council and education services due to the Scottish Government’s complete failure to reach a compromise with the trade unions.

“This is the direct result of the Scottish Government’s disastrous handling of industrial relations.  Local people, and the entire country, deserve so much better than this incompetent SNP/Green government.”

Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton Constituency, has backed the unions and reiterated calls for social care workers to be paid £15 an hour, as workforce pressures mount in the sector.

Jackie Baillie joined GMB members rallying outside the Scottish Parliament for a £15 an hour social care minimum wage.

Jackie Baillie has slammed last year’s “pitiful” pay deal and demanded a fair deal for workers as part of ongoing work towards a National Care Service.

Scottish Labour’s Health spokesperson said: “The pandemic has left us in no doubt of the incredible work social care staff do day in day out, but applause doesn’t pay the bills.

“The pitiful pay deal the SNP handed to carers last year is nothing short of disgraceful.  As staffing shortages push the sector to breaking point, a pay rise is not just the right thing to do – it is the only thing to do.

“If the SNP are serious about building a real National Care Service, they can start by giving the workers at its heart a fair deal and paying them £15 an hour.”

ScotRail could also be hit by strikes from 1 November after the RMT’s AGM rejected the latest pay offer.

The Scottish government previously said it was “perplexed” after talks on the rail dispute broke down.

About 120 world leaders are expected to attend the crucial United Nations summit from 31 October to 12 November.

A joint trade union group, including Unison, Unite and the GMB, is seeking a £2,000 flat rate pay increase or 6%, whichever is greater, from Scotland’s local authority umbrella body Cosla.

It has now notified councils that it will call on some school cleaners, caterers and janitors along with waste, recycling and maintenance staff to take “targeted” strike action during the second week of the summit.

Wendy Dunsmore, of Unite, said: “The incredible professionalism and sacrifice by local government workers has not been recognised during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Johanna Baxter, of Unison, said more than half of local government workers earned under £25,000 a year and many were at “breaking point”.

Drew Duffy, of the GMB union, added: “It’s been over 18 months since any of these key workers had a pay rise and that is a disgrace given the work they have done over the last 18 months.”

Cosla has offered an £850 flat rate rise for the lowest paid staff and 2% for those paid less than £40,000 a year.

A 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.”

ScotRail trainEarlier, the AGM of the RMT union confirmed plans for strike action by ScotRail staff from 1 to 12 November, almost the entire duration of the summit.

The union described the offer of a 2.5% increase this year, 2,2% in 2022 and a one-off £300 bonus for staff working during the summit as “pitiful”.

Two other rail unions, Aslef and the TSSA have already accepted the offer, while Unite has recommended its members vote to accept it.

The Scottish government said it was perplexed after talks with the RMT broke down on Friday, and accused the rail union’s leadership of letting down its members through an “unwillingness” to resolve the dispute.

The RMT said it had been given an “arbitrary” deadline to accept the pay offer by Wednesday, but said strikes on both ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper services could still be avoided.

General secretary Mike Lynch said: “Our message to Nicola Sturgeon, Transport Scotland, Abellio and Serco is that there is still time to resolve the pay disputes but it requires some serious movement, the lifting of bogus deadlines and genuine talks.”

 Following the announcement that unions have today issued notices of industrial action to local authorities across Scotland in a dispute over pay for council workers.

Union officials in West Dunbartonshire – Val Jennings and Margaret Wood.

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