Further rail strikes threaten to throw summer services across Scotland into chaos if bosses continue to “slaughter, slash and burn the workforce,” union leaders have warned.
Passengers have been urged against all but essential travel on trains over weekend on day three of industrial action by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union.
Workers are locked in a bitter dispute with Network Rail over a multi-year pay freeze and a lack of guarantee that there would be no compulsory redundancies
RMT members want at least a 7% pay rise – more than double the “derisory” offer tabled by the firm earlier this month – amid inflation rates predicted to hit 11% by the end of the year.
Union leader Mick Lynch said more strikes in the coming months were “likely” if improved terms were not offered.
He added: “Workers need to be properly rewarded for their work, enjoy good conditions and have the peace of mind that their job will not be taken away from them.
“What we cannot accept is thousands of railway workers being thrown on the scrapheap after being praised as heroes during Covid.
“RMT will continue its industrial campaign until a negotiated settlement is reached.”
It comes after weeks of upheaval on the lines after drivers represented by the Aslef union refused to work overtime or on rest days, forcing hundreds of services to be cancelled and emergency timetables to be put in place.
Strike action is only scheduled for Saturday, but Sunday will also likely see disruption due to the time required to reopen signal boxes on the tracks.
The annual pride march in Edinburgh is among the events facing issues due to the strike, as are fans of Liam Gallagher heading to Hampden for the former Oasis frontman’s concert on Sunday.
ScotRail has issued advice warning of no services between the venue and Glasgow Central after the gig due to the temporary timetable, in addition to no trains out of the city centre after 10.30pm.
RMT’s Scottish organiser Gordon Martin added: “The real crux of the matter is: it’s an attack on jobs, it’s an attack on terms and conditions.
“The real concern I’ve got is this imports serious danger into the railway for the train crew and for the travelling public.
“Because it stands to reason if you slaughter and slash and burn the workforce, at the same time as you cut the maintenance regime in half, the recipe for trains going down embankments and killing people is very real.”
Network Rail asked passengers to only travel by train if necessary at the weekend.
Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “Unfortunately, the RMT’s decision to carry out another day of needless and premature strike action means our passengers will suffer again on Saturday.
“A fraction of trains will run compared to a usual Saturday service, with trains starting later in the morning and finishing much earlier in the evening. I am really sorry to our passengers for the inevitable disruption to their journeys and their weekend.
“For anyone who needs to travel, please plan your journey carefully and check before setting off.
“We remain at the table and ready for talks, day or night, and will do everything we can to avoid further disruption for our passengers.”