ScotRail to resume 'informal talks' over pay dispute on Tuesday

Hundreds of rail services have been slashed as a result of a bitter pay dispute between drivers and Scotland's newly-nationalised rail operator.

ScotRail and Aslef to resume ‘informal talks’ over pay dispute on Tuesday amid ‘temporary timetable’ SNS Group
'Informal' talks between Aslef and ScotRail are due to take place on Tuesday ahead of the official resumption of negotiations.

Talks between rail union bosses and Scotland’s national operator are set to resume on Tuesday amid a bitter pay dispute leading to the cancellation of hundreds of services.

Aslef said “informal” discussions would be held with ScotRail prior to “formal negotiations” with the publicly-owned firm on Thursday.

Almost 700 journeys have been scrapped in a “temporary timetable” drawn up during an impasse over a 2.2% pay rise offer branded “derisory” by the union.

Drivers are currently refusing to work overtime or on rest days – leading to a third of daily services being slashed.

Aslef’s Scottish organiser, Kevin Lindsay, had previously said there were ‘no plans’ for the two sides to get back round the table over the coming days.

But that gap now appears to have been partially bridged, with talks set to resume officially on May 24.

In a letter to Nicola Sturgeon, Mr Lindsay wrote: “Pay negotiations have been shambolic, the timetable has been slashed by one third, the economy is suffering and passengers and communities are left isolated.

“All of this is happening at a time when we should be encouraging people to leave their cars at home to help meet our climate targets.

“For too long ScotRail has suffered from serious mismanagement. If you run a seven-day service like it is a six-day service, dependent on drivers working overtime and their rest days then this speaks to their incompetence.

“We want to work with the Scottish Government and ScotRail to make Scotland’s railways world-leading. We have said repeatedly we want to return to talks – we stand ready whenever they are called to meet with ScotRail and the Scottish Government anytime, anyplace and anywhere.”

He also called for “positive political intervention” after employment and fair work minister Richard Lochhead warned workers to be “sensible” when asking for pay rises.

“The language and behaviour of Scottish ministers have too often been inflammatory, unreasonable and factually incorrect,” Mr Lindsay told the First Minister.

“There is also a complete lack of transparency around the backroom, negative, role being played by Ministers and officials in your Government.

“Sadly, up until now there has been negative political interference, it is now time for positive political intervention and leadership from you with an instruction to ScotRail to enter as a matter of urgency meaningful pay talks with the full intention to sensibly settle these pay negotiations.

“We urgently need to see progress and a de-escalation of this situation. The Scottish public demand it. They need to get to and from work, leisure, and important cultural and sporting events satisfactorily and this needs a full service that is invested in, not cut.”