Rail strike to go ahead during COP26 after talks fail to resolve dispute

ScotRail was accused by RMT of 'offering nothing of any consequence' during talks.

Rail strike to go ahead during COP26 after talks fail to resolve dispute iStock
RMT has said there is still time to 'avoid the chaos' of a transport shutdown during COP26.

The planned rail strike during COP26 will go ahead after talks between ScotRail and the RMT union failed to resolve the ongoing pay dispute.

Last week, the union announced that rail workers will go on strike during the summit in Glasgow after a ballot of its members.

It means that train services in the country will be shut down, with Caledonian Sleeper staff also set to strike.

On Friday, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch hit out at ScotRail, accusing them of offering “nothing of any consequence” during talks.

He said: “There was a golden opportunity for Scotrail to make serious progress in talks today but instead they offered nothing of any consequence and as a result our action throughout COP26 goes ahead as planned. 

“There can be no climate justice without pay justice and it’s about time Scotrail, the SNP and Transport Scotland woke up to that fact. The same message applies to our Scottish Caledonian Sleeper members. 

“There is still time to avoid the chaos of a transport shutdown during COP26 if the key players get back with some serious proposals. We remain available for talks but the ball is firmly in their court.”

Ian McConnell, ScotRail chief operating officer, said: “I’m disappointed and incredibly frustrated that RMT representatives have point blank rejected our latest proposal.

“The RMT leadership, despite stating that the only matter needing to be resolved was rest day working, have now moved the goalposts without consulting their members. It can only indicate they’re not serious about moving forward and delivering a successful COP26.

“Time is now running out to reach agreement and, despite a pay offer of 4.7 per cent over two years, a £300 payment for COP26, and a rest day working enhancement, it seems RMT bosses are intent on sabotaging Scotland’s Railway’s role during COP26.

“With the threat of industrial action remaining, we’re continuing to develop contingency plans to provide a core service for the duration of the summit.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said that it was “disappointing” that RMT leadership did not put the pay offer to a vote of its members.

They said: “We acknowledge that the RMT has at last contacted ScotRail to reject this offer nearly two weeks after it was made.

“This is a disappointing response from the RMT leadership particularly as we understand ASLEF and TSSA have accepted the pay offer and Unite recommending it to its members who they are currently balloting. 

“It is therefore disappointing that RMT leadership did not put this very good pay offer to a democratic vote to its members.

“In the interest of collective bargaining, we understand that ScotRail would need to reengage all four unions to determine next steps. The RMT leadership has made clear its problem is with Rest Day working and that would need to be the focus for any further discussions.

“We are keen to see this issue resolved ahead of COP26 so everyone who works in Scotland’s Railways can play their part in welcoming the world to our country and showcase our efforts towards building  greener, cleaner railway.”

On Thursday, the TSSA, which represents managers in the conductors and revenue teams, ended its dispute with ScotRail after accepting a pay deal.

The union said it had accepted an offer that amounts to a 2.5% pay increase backdated to April 1, 2021, and a 2.2% increase effective from April 1, 2022.

There will also be a one-off £300 payment for staff working during COP26.