Socialist Worker

Greta Thunberg and striking workers to unite at Cop26 protests in Glasgow

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2779

GMB union members build support for their strike at a depot

GMB union members build support for their strike at a depot (Pic: GMB Glasgow on Twitter )


Greta Thunberg will join strikes and protests outside the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.

She announced that she’d join the climate strike on Friday 5 November—and called on striking workers to join her. Thunberg tweeted, “Climate justice also means social justice and that we leave no one behind.

“So we invite everyone, especially the workers striking in Glasgow, to join us.”

Activists are preparing mobilisations against Cop26 in Glasgow, London and towns and cities across Britain the following day.

Thunberg will speak at the demonstration that will go from Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park to George Square.

Glasgow City Council refuse and waste workers—who are preparing for strikes—welcomed support from the “inspirational” Thunberg. GMB union organiser Chris Mitchell said, “I thought it was absolutely fantastic, so much so we have sent a message back this morning in solidarity and camaraderie.

“A climate justice and social justice is when no one is left behind and to invite us to the rally at George Square—I think is absolutely inspirational.”

The GMB union members are set to launch a week-long pay strike on the first full day of the summit, Monday of next week.

And up to 120,000 workers in half of Scotland’s local authorities are preparing to walk out during Cop26 from Monday 8 November.

Refuse and waste collection workers, school janitors, cleaners and caterers in the Unison, GMB and Unite union are angry over a poor pay offer. The local authority bosses’ body, Cosla, offered workers who earn below £25,000 a year a mere £850 wage increase.

Journey 

The start of Cop26 will also mark the end of a long journey for many activists who’ve walked hundreds of miles to Glasgow.

Melanie, an Extinction Rebellion (XR) member in Richmond, is part of a group of walkers who embarked on a 500 mile expedition from London to Glasgow. 

The trek will have taken the group eight weeks to complete. 

She told Socialist Worker that she is “not optimistic about the Cop26 conference itself” because “it has never produced really any outcome” “World leaders have done so little to avert this crisis, a crisis, which for so many is already here,” she explained.

“They have too many vested interests, only interested in grabbing as much profit as possible.

“But of course I have hope, and our walk and actions at Cop26 are an opportunity to get up and stand up.” 

Melanie is part of XR’s Faith Bridge—which organised the walk— that brings together religious and spiritual people. 

She said that the walking group was composed of Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish people and those of no faith. 

Cop26 conference—‘We’re turning Glasgow into a city in revolt’
Cop26 conference—‘We’re turning Glasgow into a city in revolt’
  Read More

Melanie said that on her long walk across Britain, she talked to hundreds of people who were broadly “supportive” of the cause. “So many ordinary people are trying to make their lives greener,” she said.

“They recycle and try to cut their carbon footprint. 

“They are worried about the future but don’t feel like they are being listened to by politicians. 

“They say to us, ‘I’m happy you’re doing this’, but we need to persuade them to take the next step and join us in the fight against climate change.”

Melanie added,  “Other activists have joined us on the walk, usually for a day. 

“There was more than 100 of us when we left London and about 70 or 80 when we went through Coventry and Manchester. 

“We’ll be meeting other groups that are walking to Glasgow on our route, including those who have walked from Spain and walkers from the Young Christian Climate Network.

“Most of us will stay in Glasgow after the walk and get involved with XR actions.”

Thunberg attending protests on 5 November will likely bring thousands more onto the streets. And calling for striking workers to join her has the potential to create stronger links between the climate movement and organised workers. 

Every activist has to go all-out to build for the Cop26 protests. 


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