Rail turmoil continues as union rejects pay offer
Rail services will continue to be disrupted after train drivers union Aslef rejected an improved pay offer from ScotRail and warned of industrial action.
The union’s executive committee knocked back a 4.2% offer with added revenue-sharing benefits that would make it worth between 5% and 9%. They had previously rejected a 2.2% offer.
Widespread cancellations because of a driver shortage and a refusal to work overtime or on rest days has already caused chaos across the network.
Rail bosses and Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth had been optimistic of securing an agreement that would allow some services to restart.
The union will now hold a ballot for industrial action if ScotRail does not bring new proposals to the table.
ASLEF Scottish organiser Kevin Lindsay said: “ASLEF wants to negotiate a fair deal for our members, we are once again calling on ScotRail to return to the talks, so we can negotiate a fair pay offer that we can put to our members.”
Ms Gilruth said she believed ScotRail had made a “good offer” and that getting a resolution was “absolutely essential”.
Scottish Tory MSP Graham Simpson said: “Once again, train passengers in Scotland are set to suffer thanks to SNP complacency and dithering.
“Since ScotRail was nationalised two months ago, ministers haven’t put a foot right.
“They must get ScotRail and the union back around the table immediately to end this chaos as quickly as possible.”
Scottish Labour Transport spokesperson Neil Bibby said: “It’s hard to imagine this shambolic ScotRail service getting any worse, but that’s exactly what will happen if the SNP fail to resolve this situation.
“This government’s disgraceful lack of leadership has left services in chaos and industrial relations at an all time low.
“However much the SNP try to pass the buck, blame for this turmoil lies firmly at their door.
“Rail passengers can’t keep paying the price for SNP failure – the government need to get round the table with the unions and ScotRail and agree a fair deal for rail workers before services grind to a halt altogether.”
Construction is due to begin on a scheme to electrify the Fife route, with the first phase connecting Edinburgh Haymarket and Dalmeny, south of the Forth Bridge.
The work should be completed by December 2024 and forms part of a rolling programme that is expected to see electrification extended to Dundee and Aberdeen.
Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth said: “It is great news that the first phase of the Fife electrification project is expected to start this month as this will make a significant difference to passenger and freight services in the future.”
Development work is also being progressed on Borders electrification and on procuring new rolling stock.
Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway said: “We’re working hard alongside the Scottish Government to bring the benefits of electrification to communities across Scotland.