UNION bosses said cleansing staff "are using foodbanks" and "living on one meal a day" to get by as workers across Glasgow formed picket lines.

Today at nine centres across the city, striking cleansing workers from the GMB Scotland, Unison and Unite unions joined forces in a show of strength.

Following long running negotiations over pay, union members balloted to take strike action to urge movement from employee body Cosla.

Glasgow Times:

At a 70-strong picket line at Shieldhall Recycling Centre, Chris Mitchell, GMB convenor for cleansing, said: "It's been a good mood this morning.

"The last thing we want to do is take low paid workers out but I don't think the Scottish Government realises the anger that has built up over the past eight months.

"Working class people across the country have had enough and they are standing up against what is the result of years of austerity."

Mr Mitchell said low paid staff, despite being in full time work, are being forced to use foodbanks and that some are eating one meal a day to be able to afford three a day for their children.

He said: "People don't realise how low paid we actually are.

"When the costs are rising everywhere, it means you run out of money very quickly.

"We do a very physical job, we walk miles every day, and some of the guys are going off sick because they are only eating one meal a day and it's not enough calories to sustain them."

One cleansing worker on the picket, who asked not to be named, said staff have been "backed into a corner" by employers dragging their heels over pay increases.

Glasgow Times:

He said they would be continuing with industrial action "as long as it takes" to get the pay rise they need.

Earlier in the dispute an initial 2% offer was raised to 5% but, against inflation, unions say this is not enough.

Yesterday depute first minister John Swinney met with Cosla and the trade unions to try to steer talks but a resolution has yet to be found.

The refuse collector said: "During the pandemic the Scottish Government called us front line workers and we want to be paid accordingly.

"We are not asking for the world - just what we deserve.

"We definitely have public support because the ordinary person out on the street has had enough of everything and they understand where we're coming from.

"People are trying to decide whether to heat or eat and I have elderly parents that I am quite fearful for.

Glasgow Times:

"They have worked since they were 16 and have paid money into the pot and now, after a lifetime of work, they might not be able to afford to heat their homes.

"I find it all absolutely disgusting. Where does it finish?"

Strikers were also out in East Renfrewshire yesterday as action spread from Edinburgh to councils across Scotland. 

READ MORE: Rubbish already building up on Glasgow's streets

Mr Mitchell said he had joined earlier picket lines in the capital and public support was high.

In the capital, rubbish has piled up in the heart of the city during the Edinburgh International Festival as staff walk out there.

Despite the mess, the GMB Scotland rep said he believed support would remain strong for workers.

He said: "It was the same during COP26 - people only realise what we do once we are not there.

READ MORE: Postal workers are the latest to form picket lines

"You put your bin out in the morning and then you bring it in later that day, or you see a guy cleaning the street, but that's all you see, until we stop doing it and the rubbish builds up.

"That's when people see our work and they appreciate it. The support is there for us."

The pickets lines will be in place every day until Monday and Mr Mitchell anticipates a strong turnout every day.

He added: "The working class in this country have simply had enough and we are fighting back."

Need to know more details about bin collections? Click here for information. 



Glasgow Times: Daily Catch-Up newsletter banner Glasgow Times