Scottish transport minister ‘perplexed’ by COP26 strikes

The RMT has confirmed that its ScotRail members will be striking during the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, which starts on Sunday and runs for two weeks.

The union said its delegates in Leeds voted to reject the latest pay offer from ScotRail, with its reps describing the offer as ‘poor, loaded with productivity strings and wholly unacceptable to the members’.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch added: ‘Our AGM has voted to reject this offer, to support our Scottish members and to press ahead with the action throughout COP26. We have been given a wholly arbitrary deadline of 17.00 on Wednesday to accept this deal or the whole pay offer will be pulled. You cannot conduct serious negotiations with that sort of gun pointed at your head. Our message to Nicola Sturgeon, Transport Scotland, Abellio and Serco is that there is still time to resolve the pay disputes but it requires some serious movement, the lifting of bogus deadlines and genuine talks. The union is available to get those talks on [at] any time.’

Transport minister Graeme Dey responded last night: ‘We remain utterly perplexed at the position the RMT leadership is taking here. While we think their action is misguided and does their members no favours, we of course respect the right of trade unions to do what they think is appropriate for their membership.

‘But we are clear that this is a fair and good offer that will put cash in the pockets of rail workers who have worked hard during the pandemic. This is evidenced by the fact that the three other rail unions (ASLEF UNITE and TSSA) have accepted it.

‘ScotRail, with the full support of the Scottish Government, has tried a number of times to reach a deal with the RMT leadership – as of yesterday, the offer being made to its members consisted of a 4.7 per cent pay increase over this and next year, a £300 payment for COP26, an additional payment equivalent to three hours salary for booking on for a Rest Day shift for the rest of the year.

‘We understood that we were close to agreement with negotiators apparently happy with the offer, RMT leaders have then moved the goalposts. 

‘For all the ScotRail employees who are RMT members, there is no doubt they would benefit from this pay settlement. What the RMT is now asking for is neither reasonable nor affordable. The travelling public deserve and need to know what rail service will be operating in the next two weeks. That is why we put a deadline of Wednesday for this offer to be accepted – the enhanced offer remains on the table until then. At that point, we must focus on making alternative plans for rail operations during COP26.’