Passenger disruption threat after ScotRail conductors vote for strikes

The electrifications of the line between Edinburgh and Glasgow was meant to be completed by December this year. Picture: Jane Barlow
The electrifications of the line between Edinburgh and Glasgow was meant to be completed by December this year. Picture: Jane Barlow
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PASSENGERS face the threat of disruptive strike action after ScotRail conductors voted by three-to-one to walk out over the downgrading of their role.

Leaders of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) are now considering whether to announce strike dates, and must give seven days’ notice of any action.

Unofficial action has caused dozens of cancellations over recent Sundays. Conductors voted by 311-100 for action, on a 75 per cent turnout.

The result also showed a majority of all 551 conductors - 56 per cent - backed strikes.

BACKGROUND: ScotRail door control not an open-shut issue

The dispute is over proposals for conductors to be given a lesser role on a new fleet of Hitachi-built trains due to start running on routes across the Central Belt from next year, including the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line.

Drivers would take over door control and safety duties, leaving conductors to check tickets. On some services, conductors would be replaced by lower-paid ticket examiners.

The plans were sent to staff but withdrawn before being put formally to unions. However, the RMT said ScotRail’s intentions were clear.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “This ballot has demonstrated in the clearest possible way the strength of feeling across the ScotRail network over the threatened extension of driver-only operation.

“The workforce also know only too well that there is a very real threat to passengers of watering down and wiping out the safety-critical role of the guard on these ScotRail services. That is a lethal gamble with basic rail safety. The rock-solid mandate for action will now be considered by RMT’s executive. The union remains available for further talks.”

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ScotRail claimed the result showed there was only limited support for industrial action.

A spokeswoman said: “This ballot result confirms that there is very little appetite for strike action in ScotRail.

“Nearly half of our total number of conductors voted against strike action or abstained. This is now a clear signal for the RMT that our people in Scotland want to decide their own way forward.

“We have already guaranteed job security, pay and the futures of our conductors. The RMT must now allow their local representatives in Scotland to consider ScotRail’s ideas that will make these guarantees possible.”

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