Festive rail strikes go ahead as RMT rejects offer
Rail strikes planned over Christmas period will go-ahead after members of the RMT union rejected Network Rail’s latest pay offer.
Thousands of rail workers will walk out between 6pm on Christmas Eve and 6am on 27 December, extending the long-running dispute over pay.
The walk-outs will be in addition to action affecting 14 train companies this week and in early January.
“This is a huge rejection of Network Rail’s substandard offer and shows that our members are determined to take further strike action in pursuit of a negotiated settlement,” RMT’s general secretary Mick Lynch said.
“We will resist that and our members, along with the entire trade union movement will continue their campaign for a square deal for workers, decent pay increases and good working conditions.”
The union said Network Rail’s offer included a 9% pay increase over two years in exchange for thousands of job losses and a 30% increase in unsocial hours.
Scottish Ministers have called on the UK Government to act immediately to bring an end to the dispute.
Jenny Gilruth, Scottish Minister for Transport, who last month joined Mr Lynch to press the UK Government to reach a settlement, said: “While this is not a matter in which the Scottish Government has any locus – I urge the Secretary of State for Transport to take a different approach and work with the Trade Unions to secure a railway that benefits users, staff and taxpayers.
“In Scotland, we have maintained constructive discussions between ScotRail and the Scottish representatives of the RMT members. By doing so, we have settled our pay negotiations.
“Scotland has embraced the concept of fair work, so it is disheartening to see our own progressive activity in this regard being put at risk by the inevitable wider consequences of the UK Government’s ill thought out, hasty and hostile approach to industrial relations.
“We do not welcome UK Government plans for so-called radical rail reform agenda which have yet to be explained to Scottish Ministers in any detail, but which appear to be a guise for compulsory redundancies in the Network Rail workforce, including in Scotland.
“The Scottish Government remains committed to our long-standing policy of no compulsory redundancies. However, the last three Secretaries of State for Transport have failed to engage in any meaningful conversations on these matters – an approach that is quite unsatisfactory given the seriousness of this Network Rail dispute.
ScotRail issues reminders to passengers
ScotRail customers are being reminded that services will be significantly disrupted this week during the latest round of strike action by RMT members of Network Rail.
The pay dispute does not involve ScotRail staff, however, it will have a major impact on the train operator’s ability to provide services as the RMT planned action involves Network Rail staff in Scotland.
For ScotRail customers, this means a limited number of services will operate on a reduced number of routes for five days from Tuesday, 13 until Sunday, 18 December.
Many of the Network Rail staff that are due to take part in the planned industrial action occupy safety-critical roles and, as such, it will not be possible for ScotRail to run the vast majority of services.
On the days of strike action, ScotRail has confirmed it will operate a similar service level as the previous strike action on previous Network Rail strike dates.
This limited strike timetable will also operate on the non-strike day, Thursday, 15 December. This is because Network Rail is unable to make all infrastructure available on that day. Signal boxes are key pieces of Network Rail infrastructure located across the rail network that control train movements. Their use is critical to ensure that the railway can operate safely.
This means the train operator will run services on 12 routes across the central belt, Fife, and the Borders between the hours of 07.30 and 18.30.
The routes and frequency of service which will be in operation are:
- Edinburgh Waverley – Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High: two trains per hour
- Edinburgh Waverley – Helensburgh Central: two trains per hour
- Glasgow Central – Hamilton/Larkhall: two trains per hour
- Glasgow Central – Lanark: two trains per hour
- Edinburgh Waverley – Glasgow Central via Shotts: one train per hour
- Edinburgh Waverley – Cowdenbeath: two trains per hour
- Edinburgh Waverley – Tweedbank: two trains per hour
- Edinburgh Waverley – North Berwick: one train per hour
- Edinburgh Waverley – Larbert: one train per hour
- Glasgow Queen Street – Larbert: one train per hour
- Glasgow Queen Street – Falkirk Grahamston: one train per hour
- Milngavie – Springburn: two trains per hour
The train operator is warning customers that the final services will depart well before 18.30, so customers should plan ahead and ensure they know when their last train will depart.
Due to the greater reliance on manual signalling outside the Central Belt, Network Rail is unable to facilitate passenger services on any other routes on the strike days.