UNION bosses have accused Glasgow City Council of "smearing" low paid workers after staff walked out earlier this week.

The Glasgow Times told earlier this week how cleansing staff staged a two-day walkout with a rally outside Glasgow City Chambers.

Action was not pre-planned and so the council, in a tweet to explain why bins across the city had not been lifted, called the walkout an "illegal strike".

The tweet has now been seen as a dig at workers, who said they are concerned about their safety as the council moves to increase their hours back to pre-coronavirus levels.

A GMB Scotland spokesman said: “Earlier this week we called for co-operation, safety and investment in the service, so it’s disappointing to see the council smear low-paid key workers on social media just 48 hours later.

“Not content with undermining safe working practices against COVID at a moment when this killer virus is on the rise again, the council is behaving like the kind of employer government ministers and clinicians have condemned from the podium during this crisis.

“Once again we ask the council to properly engage with its frontline staff and work with them to address these serious workplace and public safety concerns. It shouldn’t be a struggle to keep key workers safe.”

Greens councillor Jon Molyneux also tweeted in response to the council's online post, saying: "I was pleased the Council voted to back a pay rise for key workers.

"Immediately undermining that by trying to stoke up ill will towards workers is wrong - and it won't work."

The Scottish Green Party and Trade Union Group also released a statement. It said: "We were shocked to see posts from Glasgow City Council this afternoon with clear intent to stir up vitriol and place the blame on these workers for missed bin collections.

"The city council has a responsibility to keep the people of Glasgow safe, and to ignore safety concerns from its workers and act with such impunity is shameful."

A spokesman for the council said cleansing staff refused to go to work without a ballot, vote or any notification of intention to strike, meaning there was no legal basis for the action.

Cleansing staff have been working reduced hours during the covid-19 crisis but on full pay.

He added: “The unlawful action taken by GMB members was prompted by a call for a team to extend their working day from 3.30pm to 4.30pm, which is still two hours within their daily contracted hours.

“At all times during lockdown the council has followed the national waste industry guidance on Covid-19, which is developed in full consultation with the GMB.

“But the small step towards a return to normal working hours will help the city deal with the rising demand for services, such as street cleaning and fly-tipping removal.

“Agreement was reached with senior GMB officials on Tuesday for staff to return to work on Wednesday.

"There was also agreement with the GMB over a phased return to normal contracted hours over the next six weeks.

“But this illegal action has caused disruption to vital services, including to household bin collections, and that is completely unacceptable.”