By Sophie Squire
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Solidarity grows for Glasgow refuse strike as SNP threatens scab army

Issue 2780
Workers waving GMB union flags on one of the picket lines in Glasgow

Workers picket at Kelvinhough Street


The Scottish National Party (SNP) council in Glasgow is looking to break a refuse workers’ strike with a scab army of private contractors.

The BBC says it understands the local authority could use contractors to clear the mounting piles of rubbish in the city.

In the face of these threats, solidarity poured onto the GMB union members’ picket lines on Wednesday. They began a week-long strike against poverty pay on Monday, the first full day of the Cop26 climate conference.

Workers mounted large and lively picket lines at depots across the city throughout the strike.

At the Kelvinhaugh recycling centre, around 70 activists came to support the striking workers.  They included members of the Unite, Unison, PCS and RCN union, many bringing cakes and flasks of coffee and tea for strikers. 

Residents across Glasgow wrote messages of support on their bins. 

Care workers, who took part in a thousands-strong strike for pay equality in 2018, also joined the picket lines. One of them, Frances Stojilkovic, said workers “are out here having to strike for a decent pay rise because the council doesn’t treat them very good”.

“They’ve worked all through this pandemic and risked their own lives, and we’re here to support them,” she said.

Chris Mitchell, the GMB convenor, said, “It is an environmental issue, cleansing, we deal in recycling obviously and food waste. 

“It’s just unfortunate that cuts over the last ten 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.

“We call them nothing more than cuts.”

Strikers and Living Rent activists held a rally outside Glasgow City Council (GCC) last week, dumping bags of rubbish outside its doors. 

At the rally Living Rent Dennistoun branch chair Caroline Robertson told the crowd, “The eyes of the world are on Glasgow. Communities in the east end need to make GCC clean up its act and invest in more cleaning workers to keep our streets clean.

“GCC ‘sprucing up’ Glasgow and passing responsibility for street cleaning onto communities to impress heads of state is utterly insulting.”

Climate activists protesting at Cop26 also attended picket lines. 

Helen Burnett, who joined the pickets, said, “The more grassroots movements that connect together the better. I’m in Christian Climate Action, but we know if we all stand together, we’ll be much stronger.

“These guys are the bottom of the pile and they are not getting the pay that they deserve.”

Strikers feel positive after receiving such high levels of solidarity from activists and the community. 

Creating stronger links between strikers and the environmental movement is essential to win climate and social justice.

The impact of just three days of strikes by the Glasgow refuse workers give a glimpse of the potential power of workers.

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