Members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) working for the publicly owned rail operator are staging a 24-hour walkout on Saturday as part of an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions. ScotRail said the latest offer would have seen the lowest paid staff receive a basic pay increase of almost 7.5%.
Members manned picket lines around the country at stations including Glasgow Central, Glasgow Queen Street, Edinburgh Waverley, Dumfries and Ayr on Saturday.
More than 2,000 ScotRail employees are estimated to be taking part in the action on Saturday – with staff working as conductors, ticket examiners, station staff, engineering depot staff and CCTV operators all involved.
As a result, the publicly owned rail operator has been forced to cancel the majority of its services, with trains operating on just three routes across the central belt.
RMT Scottish organiser Mick Hogg said the rail operator “refuses to offer a cost-of-living pay increase”, and said the latest offer “falls well short of where we need to be as inflation RPI is sitting at 12.2%”.
However, ScotRail said the RMT’s Company Council and National Executive Committee (NEC) rejected the offer without giving staff a say, and that the deal was conditional on the suspension of this weekend’s strike action, and the offer being put to RMT members.
The rail operator said the deal has now been withdrawn, but it remains open to resolving the dispute.
Mr Hogg added: “RMT members will be taking no lectures from ScotRail – as the bosses continue to give themselves colossal pay increases. RMT are seeking a fair deal for our members that reflects the cost-of-living crisis.”
Phil Campbell, ScotRail’s head of customer operations, said: “It’s really disappointing that the RMT has refused to put this improved offer to its members so they can have a say.
“Further strike action has a damaging effect on the railway’s recovery at a time when we should be encouraging more people to travel. Instead, our customers are being severely impacted and our staff are losing out through lost wages.”
Rugby fans warned to ‘avoid using the train’
There is widespread disruption to ScotRail services across the country, with the rail operator making a particular warning to rugby fans who are heading to Scotland’s first autumn international to avoid using the train given the strike will cause “significant disruption”.
Trains were operating on just three routes across the network: Milngavie to Edinburgh Waverley via Glasgow Queen Street Low Level (half hourly service); Glasgow Central to Lanark (hourly service) and Glasgow Central – Larkhall (hourly service).
Mr Campbell said: “Regrettably, we won’t be able to operate the vast majority of our services on Saturday October 29, and customers should expect significant disruption to services due to the large proportion of ScotRail staff who are members of the RMT trade union.
“We’re advising customers, including rugby fans intending to travel to Scotland’s first autumn international at Murrayfield, to seek alternative means of transport and to only travel by train if they really need to.”
The operator warned RMT’s general grades are also currently taking part in an overtime and rest day working ban as part of action short of a strike. This has seen some daily cancellations across the ScotRail network since 14 October, as the train operator requires rest day working and overtime while recruitment continues.
Today is the union’s second day of strike action this month over pay and follows industrial action on 10 October.
A Scottish government spokesperson said: “We absolutely respect the democratic right of union members to take industrial action and the continued constructive discussions between ScotRail and the Scottish representatives of the RMT members. This collaborative approach is distinct from that taken elsewhere in the UK, particularly on the issue of minimum service levels.
“That is why it is really disappointing that Scottish members are being denied the opportunity to vote on a new deal, one which would benefit lower paid ScotRail workers in particular.
“We once again call on the RMT National Executive to suspend the ScotRail strike action in favour of a members’ referendum on the revised pay deal. That is the best hope of getting this fair and affordable offer into people’s pay in time for Christmas.”