Rail strikes to go ahead as RMT rejects new offer
Passengers can expect disruption during COP26
Strikes on the Scottish rail network are expected to go ahead as planned during COP26 despite new attempts to resolve a pay dispute.
Two of four rail unions were prepared to accept a revised offer, a third is recommending acceptance, but the RMT union has rejected the new terms.
ScotRail said it was disappointed a “very good offer” had been rejected while Transport Scotland said RMT leaders should have balloted its members.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the decision to go ahead with industrial action was made after the train company “failed to get serious” in talks with the union.
The row over pay has affected Sunday services across Scotland in recent months and is now set to disrupt travellers during the climate summit in Glasgow between 1 and 12 November.
Thousands of delegates, media and other participants, including world leaders, are expected to attend.
Mr Lynch said: “There was a golden opportunity for ScotRail to make serious progress in talks today, but instead they offered nothing of any consequence and as a result our action throughout COP26 goes ahead as planned.
“There is still time to avoid the chaos of a transport shutdown during COP26 if the key players get back with some serious proposals.”
He said the union remained open to pay rise discussions with ScotRail, but “the ball is firmly in their court”.
The TSSA union – which represents managers in the conductor and revenue teams at Scotland’s train operator – said it was accepting an improved pay offer.
It amounts to a 2.5% pay increase backdated to April 1, 2021, and a 2.2% increase effective from April 1, 2022, with a one-off £300 payment for staff working during COP26.
Aslef has also accepted the pay offer and Unite is balloting members.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We were disappointed that the RMT rejected the offer. Having taken nearly two weeks to tell ScotRail they were rejecting the offer, ScotRail sought to return immediately to the table to focus on the area the RMT said publicly was their one remaining concern – rest day working.
“An offer in this regard was made, the RMT undertook to consider it. We fully expected their representatives to return with a counter offer – that after all is the nature of negotiations – yet the RMT leadership rejected that offer out of hand and returned to the issue of pay.
“We note the latest public statement by the RMT leadership; Scotrail remains ready to return to the negotiating table at any point this weekend to consider again the issue of allowances for rest day working.
“This matter can be resolved, allowing everyone who works for Scotland’s Railway to get on with preparing to welcome the world to Glasgow.
“We believe that’s what most of our railway employees want. We know a credible, good pay offer has been made that we think most ScotRail employees would want to accept. We hope that the RMT leadership will recognise this too.
“But at this point, we are utterly perplexed by the leadership’s inability to see that it is their members who stand to lose out, and that by its actions and unwillingness to seek meaningfully to resolve this matter, they are letting their members down.
“We don’t think anyone, including the membership of the RMT, wants to disrupt COP26 or the chance to showcase Scotland’s green, clean railway to a global audience. We hope that encompasses the RMT leadership too, although their approach to seeking resolution of matters does appear to call this into question.”
A ScotRail spokesman said: “It’s extremely disappointing that the RMT have rejected a very good pay offer, negotiated over several weeks, and opted to continue with this highly damaging strike action, particularly when the other three unions have either accepted the offer or have recommended that their members do so.
“We’re seeing customers gradually return to Scotland’s railway, but the scale of the financial situation ScotRail is facing is stark.”