COP26: Scotland faces ‘humiliation on world stage’ due to strikes during climate change summit
And they demanded an urgent resolution to pay and conditions disputes before global leaders and delegates arrive in host city Glasgow.
Blasting the Scottish Government, Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “As world leaders travel to Scotland to discuss environmental justice, we should be leading by example.
“This means making sure workers get a fair deal, whether it’s the refuse collectors keeping our streets clean or the workers keeping our trains running. If these strikes go ahead, the SNP will only have themselves to blame.
“The SNP need to stand up for workers and resolve these disputes before the legacy of COP26 becomes Scotland’s humiliation on the world stage.
“At COP26, The SNP will talk about the importance of public transport to the environment while cutting routes. They will preach about the importance of cleaning up the environment while cutting cleansing budgets.
“These strikes threaten to plunge Glasgow into chaos when the world is watching.”
COP26 runs from October 31 to November 12 — when rail strikes would mean fewer than one in ten trains are expected to operate.
Some 30,000 delegates will be ferried around for free thanks to a £6million transport contract. The Foreign Office splashed out on 400 ‘sustainable’ coaches and minibuses to take them to and from the two-week gathering at the Scottish Event Campus.
But an anticipated influx of visitors to the city could struggle to get around. Meanwhile, strikes by refuse workers, cleaners and support services staff are expected to result in dirty streets, overflowing bins and chaos at schools still battling Covid measures.
Lawyers also plan to snub a request to represent clients in court at weekends.
Tory MSP Graham Simpson said: “SNP ministers have had months to sort out this situation but have failed to do so.
“They have allowed a series of issues to mount up on a number of fronts rather than urgently resolving them. With the eyes of the world on Glasgow, unless ministers get parties round the table again, this will cause major disruption during COP26.”
Calling for a resolution to the disputes, Lib Dem transport spokesperson Jill Reilly said: “We have had six months of reduced services on the railways and rubbish piling up in the streets. Joe Biden is going to be met with dirty streets and traffic chaos but this is par for the course for too many residents.”
The Scottish Government insisted they want to see the pay disputes settled as soon as possible.
A spokesperson said: “Scotland’s public sector and transport workers have played an integral role in tackling the pandemic.
“We are keen to see these issues resolved ahead of COP26 so they can also play their part in welcoming the world to our country.
“We are proud to welcome COP26 to Scotland, knowing how important the summit is to accelerating international action on the climate emergency. We have been working very closely with the UK Government and partners, including Glasgow City Council and Police Scotland, to deliver a safe, secure and successful COP26.
“COP26 represents the world’s best chance — and possibly one of our last chances — to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
“That’s why it is important that world leaders are coming together in person in Glasgow, to mobilise the ambition, finance, resources and joint working needed to deliver on the Paris Agreement goals.”