Rail dispute

Train drivers offer may test public sector pay ceiling

Class 320 ScotRail train
Train drivers will vote on the new offer

A raised offer of 4.2% to ScotRail train drivers, together with other benefits, may bring an end to a fractious pay dispute, but could trigger unrest from other public sector workers.

Kevin Lindsay, Scottish organiser of the train drivers’ union, said the improved offer would be put to his members following a meeting with ScotRail which was not expected to yield much ground on either side.

Mr Lindsay said: “Aslef entered these talks in good faith. We have negotiated a pay offer of 4.2%, a three-year no compulsory redundancy deal and a number of other improvements. These will now be put to our members for their consideration.”

ScotRail’s service delivery director David Simpson said: “We’ve been able to improve the offer we’d made previously in a way that reflects the concerns which were expressed to us on cost of living.” 

ScotRail said the new pay offer, which is understood to be worth 5% when revenue sharing is included, was final. It would amount to £1 million being split between ScotRail’s 5,119 staff, backdated to 1 April when ScotRail returned to public ownership. This would give giving a short-term bonus of £390, rising to £2,535 for the year for each member of staff if the revenue targets stay steady. To ease the driver shortage, the Sunday working allowance will be increased by 10%.

There was no indication whether the drivers will accept it. Nonetheless, Scottish Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth seemed confident that some of the 700 services cancelled on Monday could soon be reinstated. These could include more trains to carry those attending Wednesday’s World Cup play-off between Scotland and Ukraine at Hampden Park in Glasgow.

The RMT union, which represents other railway workers, has balloted members over strike action but will hold separate negotiations with ScotRail on Tuesday.

A potential banana skin for ministers is how other public sector unions, including teachers and council workers, respond now that train drivers can expect a minimum rise of 4.2%, well above the 2.2% which the government had stipulated.

Lorry drivers secure 20% deal over two years

Unite the union has secured a basic pay increase of more than 20% over two years for HGV drivers employed by Elgin company McPherson, raising wages by at least £2,200 this year.

The logistics company, which transports goods across Scotland, has agreed the pay deal for about 300 drivers with a 9.4% increase on basic pay achieved for 2022, and a further 10.01% on top of that for 2023, taking it to 20.35% over 2 years. 

Unite has also secured significant improvements to a number of working benefits such as overtime rates, which will rise by 15.5% this year and 12.4% in 2023. New vehicles used for distance work will also be installed with microwaves and fridges. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members at McPherson’s have secured a really significant increase not only to their basic pay but across all rates including overtime. It’s another great deal won by Unite and demonstrates once again that in this living costs crisis, Unite delivers better jobs, pay and conditions for our members.” 

Unite industrial officer, Marc Jackson, added: “Unite is delighted to secure such a great deal across the board for our members at McPherson’s. We have also doubled our shop stewards who have done a great job negotiating with the company. The deal provides a fantastic springboard for the future, and it will help retain and attract people to the industry.”

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