Rail strikes during COP26 off after deal struck with RMT union

Scottish Government and ScotRail reach settlement with union in dispute over pay and conditons.

Rail strikes during COP26 off after deal struck with RMT union jax10289 via iStock
Strike action has been averted during COP26.

A deal has been done to avert ScotRail train staff striking during the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow.

The one-year deal includes a 2.5% pay rise agreed between the RMT union, ScotRail and the Scottish Government.

World leaders and thousands of delegates are set to arrive in Glasgow for the United Nations climate summit, but the 13-day event has been threatened with disruption caused by rail strikes.

The deal will see strike action during the summit averted, as well as the end of long-running strike action that has affected Sunday services.

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The RMT set out its final negotiating position earlier on Wednesday ahead of a 5pm deadline.

In a letter sent to union members after Wednesday evening’s talks, RMT general secretary Michael Lynch said: “I can advise you that subsequent negotiations have been held and that your union made a counter offer to ScotRail.

“By accepting the offer all industrial action is now cancelled and I instruct you all to work normally on the days you had previously been instructed to take action on.”

The new terms accept the union’s call for a 2.5% pay rise backdated to April and a “Cop26 payment” for all staff of £300.

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A three-hour book on allowance applied to each rest day worked, applicable for 12 months from the date of the agreement, is also included.

Lynch said the union’s offer was accepted “unanimously” by delegates.

His letter added: “It was noted that it was only through the tremendous determination of you and your colleagues throughout this dispute, through the efforts of your representatives, activists and negotiators that this result was achieved.

“The AGM congratulates you and I congratulate you on achieving this magnificent industrial victory and gaining a one-year pay deal and rest day working agreement without any preconditions and which banishes the previously stated productivity strings attached.”

Earlier this week, Scotland’s transport minister Graeme Dey warned he was “not optimistic” that a resolution would be reached with the RMT before the 5pm deadline.

He was facing calls to quit if a deal could not be reached to prevent the strike during COP26.

In response to the recent announcement, Dey said: “Following recent discussions we are pleased that all four trade unions have now agreed to accept this very good pay offer on behalf of their members.

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“We are proud to have brokered and funded a deal which gives Scotland’s rail workers a decent pay rise and improved terms and conditions, in contrast to conditions for rail workers under the UK Government.

“We are also pleased that the RMT reached out to restart discussions based on the offer that had been made to them on Sunday. Now an agreement has been confirmed the strike action will thankfully now come to an end.

“As well as getting the pay rise they deserve, railway workers can now go back to delivering rail services for people right across Scotland and as well as for those attending COP26.

Three other unions representing rail workers – Aslef, Unite and the TSSA – had already accepted a deal put on the table.

Ian McConnell, ScotRail chief operating officer, said: “We have reached a pay agreement with the RMT trade union that resolves strike action. We look forward to Scotland’s railway playing its part in delivering a successful COP26 next week.”

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