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by Andrew Learmonth
26 October 2021
Rail union given 24 hours to accept pay offer and call off COP26 strike

Rail union given 24 hours to accept pay offer and call off COP26 strike

Rail union RMT has been given until Wednesday to accept a pay deal and call off their planned strike during the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow.

Transport minister Graeme Dey said he was perplexed that the wage increase had been rejected, but the union described the rise as "pitiful".

Unions representing council workers have also confirmed plans for strike action, with refuse and recycling workers, school cleaners, janitors and catering staff all set to down tools across Scotland from November 8.

Unison, Unite and GMB, are calling for a £2,000 flat-rate pay increase or 6 per cent, whichever is greater, from Scotland’s local authority umbrella body Cosla.

However, there’s less unity with the transport unions, with members of Aslef, TSSA and Unison all backing the ScotRail pay offer. However, delegates at the RMT’s AGM in Leeds rejected the deal which would see workers receive a 4.7 per cent pay rise over two years, equivalent to equivalent to between £1,700 and £2,600 over two years.

Transport Minister Graeme Dey said the government was "utterly perplexed" at the RMT leadership’s position.

He said: "While we think their action is misguided and does their members no favours, we, of course, respect the right of trade unions to do what they think is appropriate for their membership.

"But we are clear that this is a fair and good offer that will put cash in the pockets of rail workers who have worked hard during the pandemic. This is evidenced by the fact that the three other rail unions (Aslef, Unite and TSSA) have accepted it.

"ScotRail, with the full support of the Scottish government, has tried a number of times to reach a deal with the RMT leadership - as of yesterday, the offer being made to its members consisted of a 4.7% pay increase over this and next year, a £300 payment for COP26, an additional payment equivalent to three hours salary for booking on for a Rest Day shift for the rest of the year.

"That last enhancement was offered just yesterday, and we understood that we were close to agreement with negotiators apparently happy with the offer, RMT leaders have then moved the goalposts."

RMT 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."

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has invited Glasgow workers who plan on striking during COP26 to join her in a protest march through the city.

She tweeted: "On Friday Nov 5 I'll join the climate strike in Glasgow - during #COP26 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. See you there!"

Meanwhile, Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken yesterday rejected criticism of the state of the city, saying it was “entirely gratuitous” to say the streets were filthy.

She said Glasgow was ready to host the conference “with caveats”.

“I would say the caveats are mainly technical, some of them have already been resolved or are being ticked off. None of them were massive, none of them were enough to cause panic,” she told MPs on Westminster's Scottish Affairs Committee.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said the technical issues included bins that were overflowing. He said: "There’s rats in the streets and some of your employees have been taken to hospital while collecting that rubbish”.

She said a refuse worker had been treated after “very minor contact with a rat”. She said: “It’s something that’s happening right across the UK. All cities have rats.

“I’m confident that the visitors coming to Glasgow will see — as they always see — an incredibly vibrant, diverse and welcoming urban space.”

She said 12,000 additional hours have been worked to clean Glasgow ahead of the summit. 


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