COP26: Workers in Scotland plan strikes during summit

RMT members on ScotRail will be striking for 12 days during COP26

Rail, bus and council workers are preparing strike action during COP26. Socialist Party Scotland (CWI Scotland) offers our full support.

The RMT rail and transport union has announced 12 days of strike action, from 1-12 November, in a dispute over pay with ScotRail bosses. In addition, RMT members on the Caledonian Sleeper service will also be out on strike during the climate summit in Glasgow. 

Stagecoach staff who are members of Unite – drivers, engineering staff, admin workers, and cleaners – in every regional division in Scotland have also voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over pay. 

Council workers in Glasgow and some other Scottish councils have also backed strike action after a miserly 2% pay offer from the employers.

It’s very likely that around 1,500 bin workers, school janitors, cleaners and catering staff employed by Glasgow City council will take action during COP26.

In addition, workers at Dundee University will strike again next week in a dispute over pensions.

It’s no accident that all these groups of workers were lauded as ‘key workers’ during the pandemic.

Their reward has been to be kicked in the teeth by bosses, councils and the Scottish government by being offered pay ‘rises’ that do not even cover soaring inflation. 

For all the talk from politicians, particularly the SNP, about a recovery for workers after Covid, it’s back to business as usual: pay restraint and austerity.

The RMT dispute at ScotRail has been ongoing for over six months. The now SNP-Green coalition at Holyrood has refused to act, allowing ScotRail and Transport Scotland to preside over an onslaught against rail workers. 

In fact, the SNP transport minister lauded the 4.7% over two years pay offer – with attacks on terms and conditions – for RMT members as “the best offer that can be made in the circumstances”.

Plans to slash Scotland’s rail services have been announced by ScotRail – currently in emergency measures and being run effectively by Transport Scotland and the Scottish government.

Service and jobs cuts

An estimated 100,000 ScotRail services would be cut annually with a loss of more than 1000 jobs.

As Michael Hogg, RMT regional organiser, told Socialist Party Scotland, last month, ScotRail plans: “condemns Scotland’s railway – with closures of booking offices and stations, massive job losses and less support for the most vulnerable people within society.” 

“We already have guards in dispute, ticket examiners in dispute, gate line in dispute and train presentation staff in dispute. ScotRail put forward a proposal for COP26 that included a no-strike clause – this was rejected.

“We will take action during the summit with an all-out strike if necessary. 30,000 delegates better be booking their taxi’s as there will be no trains unless these issues are resolved. 

“Rail workers are being expected to pay for the pandemic – this will be resisted at every level by RMT and if that means taking action to bring services to a halt during COP26 then so be it.”

The possibility of strike action during COP26 by rail workers lifted the lid on the visceral anti-union bias from a number of SNP MSPs.

Five of them released a statement earlier in September that could have been drafted by any Tory or right-wing Labour politician. 

The SNP MSPs statement included: “The people of Scotland – and the watching world – may not look kindly on a rail union prepared to disrupt this vital summit.

“We urge the RMT’s London leadership to recognise that COP26 is too important to be targeted in this manner, suspend their referendum, and come to the table for negotiations on a potential pay settlement in good faith.”

Well, there was no good faith from ScotRail, Transport Scotland or the Scottish government leaving workers no option but to take action. 

Glasgow City council and the Scottish government are using COP26 in an attempt to cover up their anti-working class and cut records. Greenwashing will not make up for the continued attacks on jobs, pay and services.

Nor will it cover-up in Glasgow for the disgraceful reneging of the equal pay settlement for thousands of low paid mainly working class women in the city.

The SNP, the Greens and Starmer’s Labour party are no friends of the workers’ movement. We need to build a new mass working-class party to fight for socialist change. 



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