Socialist Worker

It’s right to strike during the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2777

Rail workers in the RMT union joined school climate strikers protests in 2019

Rail workers in the RMT union joined school climate strikers' protests in 2019 (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Groups of workers are preparing to strike in Glasgow during the Cop26 international climate ­conference. They are right to do so.

Workers’ action is the key to winning fundamental change, and strikes can ­highlight that power.

Scotrail workers in the RMT union are set to strike from 1-12 November for pay justice and equality.

Caledonian Sleeper staff will join them.

And up to 1,500 Glasgow city council workers including refuse workers, school cooks and janitors in the GMB union will also strike.

Uncollected rubbish and transport disruption will shame the Tories and the Scottish National Party (SNP) as they roll out the red carpet for world leaders and bosses.

Chris Mitchell, GMB Glasgow cleansing ­convenor, said this was part of the strategy to win for Glasgow city council workers.

“The eyes of the world will be on Glasgow during Cop26, and our politicians now have a choice” he said.

“Will they fairly reward the frontline workers who got the country through the pandemic, or will they risk embarrassing the city and the country on an ­international stage?”

Shaken

The prospect of both strikes has shaken those at the top.

Scotland’s SNP ­transport minister Graeme Dey said that he had “no idea” why Scotrail ­workers were ­planning to strike during in Cop26.

He also demanded that the members of the RMT should hold another vote. He should be in no doubt why the strikes are taking place. They have been going on for nearly seven months over basic issues of pay and conditions.

And the workers have overcome all the obstacles of the anti-union laws.

It’s a disgrace that SNP ministers are attacking workers rather than the ­privatised rail bosses.

It is right for these—and any other—disputes to use the conference itself as leverage.

26 reasons to protest at Cop26
26 reasons to protest at Cop26
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But linking strikes with the fight against the climate crisis is essential.

Striking during Cop26 is an opportunity for workers to win better conditions and pay. It is a chance to rage against the inaction of world leaders and the bosses.

It would send a strong message if rail ­workers announced that they were not only striking for their jobs but also raising demands for a fully ­nationalised and greener transport system.

Trade union leaders must be quicker to make these links.

It would also be wrong for unions to one day call strikes during Cop26 and the next advocate for preserving the fossil fuel industry and building nuclear power stations.

That’s what the GMB union leaders do.

If unions are serious about cutting emissions and fighting climate breakdown, throwing their whole weight behind protests around Cop26 is essential.

And workers across Britain should organise actions on 5 November, the day of the next school strike.

Join marches on Sat 6 Nov Glasgow 12 noon, Kelvingrove Park. London 12 noon, Bank of England. Other cities at cop26coalition.org

Biden prepares to dump climate plans, and the fossil fuel criminals take stalls at Cop26

US president Joe Biden’s claims that he will implement wide‑ranging climate reforms are already falling apart.

After opposition from Democrat West Virginia state senator Joe Manchin a programme to encourage bosses to replace fossil fuel burning plants with renewables is likely to be scrapped.

“This is absolutely the most important climate policy in the package,” said Leah Stokes, an expert on climate policy, who has been advising Senate Democrats on how to craft the programme. “We fundamentally need it to meet our climate goals. That’s just the reality. And now we can’t. So this is pretty sad.”

Manchin backs West Virginia’s coal companies—and has received more donations from the oil and gas industry than any other senator.

Profits

The three phases of Biden’s presidency
The three phases of Biden’s presidency
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Manchin isn’t the only figure looking to keep raking in the profits.

The Cop26 conference floor will see corporations furiously compete for who can greenwash the best after paying millions to sponsor the event.

The summit has 11 major sponsors including energy giants Hitachi, National Grid, Scottish Power and SSE, US tech titan Microsoft, media giant Sky and major firms NatWest, Reckitt, Sainsbury’s and Unilever.

Other lower tier “partners” include the car maker Jaguar Land Rover and the furniture retailer Ikea.

According to the organisers of Cop26, these corporations will be able to promote their brands at the conference’s “green zone”.

And despite the assurances by world leaders that cutting emissions will be a priority, several energy companies reliant on fossil fuels have also been invited.

But these energy companies are angry at the organisers of the conference because they thought they wouldn’t have to compete with their rivals at the conference.

Offering invitations to some of the most environmentally damaging corporations also exposes what Cop26 is really about.

Cop26 will be another conference that puts the bosses’ profits over the needs of the planet and people.

 


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