Disruption to train services on Sunday as dispute over pay continues

Political leaders have been urged to take responsibility for the dispute.

Disruption to train services on Sunday as dispute over pay continues fotomem via IStock
Few services have been running on Sundays for over seven months.

A majority of ScotRail services across the country will be cancelled on Sunday amidst the ongoing industrial dispute.

Few services have been running on Sundays for over seven months, with unions taking action against the rail operator Abellio over pay.

It comes after ticket examiners joined with conductors to vote overwhelmingly in favour of continuing strike action.

Last week, a protest was held outside the residence of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Bute House in Edinburgh, over planned service cuts.

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Subject to consultation, ScotRail has said it plans to introduce a new timetable from May next year, with around 2100 services per weekday.

However, it is a fall on the 2400 operated each day by ScotRail before the coronavirus pandemic.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch insisted that the “political elite” in Scotland should take responsibility for the dispute.

“It is nothing short of a scandal that Transport Scotland and the SNP are happy to collude with Scotrail Abellio to try and burn off their staff by using the sledgehammer of the Tory anti-union laws,” he said.

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“That tactic has failed again this week with our members voting by nine to one to step up the fight. Their determination and resilience is outstanding.”

He continued: “It’s about time the political elite in Scotland took responsibility for Britain’s longest running industrial dispute which is over the basic issue of pay equality on Scotrail. 

“Instead of sticking their heads in the sand they should be forcing Abellio back to the table with a clear instruction to negotiate a fair settlement.  

“RMT has been available to talks to settle this matter since the off and it’s now time for those pulling the strings to take up that offer and bring an end to a dispute which shames Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said that constructive talks are on-going with trade unions.

They said: “We recognise how hard rail employees worked during the pandemic to keep services moving for key workers.

“Through additional funding via the Emergency Measures Agreements we ensured that every employee received full pay throughout the pandemic – even at times when services and revenue had fallen by up to 95%.

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“Constructive talks are on-going with many of the trade unions against a backdrop of significant financial challenges faced by the Government – notwithstanding the unprecedented level of funding already provided for transport operators during the pandemic.

“We would urge all unions to continue talks in this constructive manner.”

A ScotRail spokesperson said: “It’s disappointing that the RMT’s ticket examiner members have voted to continue with their long-running strike.

“We’re seeing customers gradually return to Scotland’s Railway, but our financial position is precarious, and any strike action is damaging and wrong at a time when we need to deliver a safe and reliable service.

“To build a more sustainable and greener railway for the future and reduce the burden on the taxpayer, we need to change.

“All of us in the railway – management, staff, trade unions, suppliers, and government – need to work together to modernise the railway so that it is fit for the future.”