Bin bags could soon pile up again in Glasgow’s streets after refuse staff in the city said they would be willing to strike again after a recent deal with the council did not go far enough.

The GMB said three-quarters of its members in the city’s cleansing services said the 14 points negotiated with Glasgow City Council for the future of the service did not go far enough, with four fifths willing to strike again in response.

And the city could be further hit by workers in more services going on strike. The GMB has said 99% of its members across home care, Glasgow Life, education and social work are prepared to take industrial action against the authority.

The union said the authority was attempting to exclude more than a fifth of posts included in the 2019 equal pay settlement scheme from future liabilities.


Sean Baillie, GMB Scotland organiser, said: “The lowest-paid workers in Glasgow City Council have been undervalued, exploited and ignored, and their anger is reflected in these overwhelming ballot results.”

Cleansing staff in Scotland’s biggest city recently went on strike for eight days in their battle with the council over wages.

Workers secured commitments from council leader Susan Aitken in November. The council agreed to review the value of pay for all workers on the lowest grades as part of the process to remove its discriminatory pay and grading system.

An estimated 10,000 workers on grades one, two and three earn less than £20,000 a year,

The council also offered to pursue investment for cleansing infrastructure and resources to tackle the city’s waste crisis, alongside a range of new employee development and wellbeing measures to address management mistreatment of staff.

The council refused workers’ demands for a one-off “Glasgow Payment” for all workers on grades one, two and three as a means of addressing the cost-of-living crisis being faced now by many council workers.

A statutory industrial action ballot of cleansing workers will now take place in December, the union said, while workers across home care, Glasgow Life, education, and social work will ballot in January.

Mr Baillie said there “must be change in Glasgow”.

HeraldScotland: Rubbish on the South Side of Glasgow as binmen return to work. Photo by Gordon Terris.

“Scotland’s biggest city has deep and chronic problems, it is blighted by low-pay and discrimination, and its budget has been hammered by years of cuts. That’s not talking Glasgow down, it’s simply stating the facts,” he said.

“No political party has clean hands in this Glasgow story and politicians at all levels of representation should listen to the voices of these workers because it will need a response from them all.

“But our members aren’t going to stand on ceremony, they understand it’s only through their industrial strength that they can hope to make work better and ultimately make Glasgow better.”

Commenting on the threat of further action, the Tories claimed the public "are siffering due to the incompetence of the SNP-controlled council". 

Scottish Conservative MSP for Glasgow region Annie Wells said: “Glasgow residents will be dismayed at the thought of further strikes by refuse collectors and other council workers in the city.

“Once again, the public are suffering due to the incompetence of the SNP-controlled council - when it comes to negotiating with its workforce and unions – and years of funding cuts to local authorities from the SNP Government.

“The sight of overflowing bins and uncollected rubbish by the roadside is not just unsightly, it creates a public health hazard.

“Now we have the additional threat of home care, education, social work and Glasgow Life staff striking too.

"Council leader Susan Aitken needs to belatedly show some leadership to resolve this dispute and avert industrial action, because Glasgow residents have had enough.”

A council spokesman said: “As these are consultative ballots we have received no prior notification from GMB. If there is any communication from GMB following their consultative ballots, it will be dealt with appropriately at that time.”