Gilruth urges unions to engage in talks with ScotRail
Scottish Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth today urged the rail unions to get back around the table to resolve a pay dispute which has led ScotRail to scrap a third of services.
Ms Gilruth is calling for the drivers’ union Aslef to engage in meaningful talks with ScotRail which is now in public ownership, but she said she does not want to be accused of political interference by negotiating directly. Union leaders said they were ready to resume talks at any point.
Train drivers, who are seeking a 10% rise on top of their £50,000 a year salaries, have decided not to work on rest days which is common practice across the UK, but the network is now suffering a shortage.
In response, ScotRail has announced that it will cut 700 services from Monday and some of the most popular services will finish hours earlier than usual.
Ms Gilruth, who is meeting ScotRail management today, said: “I meet ScotRail on a regular basis. ScotRail are the employer so it is right and proper that they take forward the negotiations with Aslef.
“So it is hugely important that the trade unions come back to the table. I want to work with them on making public ownership a success.”
She said Aslef rejected a 2.2% offer and an opportunity to participate in a revenue-sharing arrangement which would have taken the total package to 5%. Some other rail workers have accepted the 2.2% offer.
“I would strongly urge Aslef to continue the dialogue with Scotland because I am not in the room as minister so I do not want to be accused of political interference,” said Ms Gilruth.
Labour’s transport spokesman Neil Bibby called for talks on a range of issues while the Tories transport shadow Graham Simpson said the government needed to get around the table with the unions.
“It’s completely unacceptable for this to continue for months,” said Mr Simpson.
“If the government’s position stays as it is, we are going to have a summer of chaos on the railways and the losers will be people who use trains for work, going out or to events.”
Kevin Lindsay, Aslef’s Scottish organiser, accused ScotRail and the Scottish government of having “handled this situation appallingly”.