ScotRail timetable change: ‘Constructive’ talks between rail chiefs and train drivers’ union adjourned until later in week

Discussions between the train drivers' union and ScotRail to settle a pay dispute and restore services have been adjourned to later this week, with both sides expressing confidence the constructive nature of talks may soon bring an end to the stand-off.

Talks between the two parties restarted on Monday morning, but after just 90 minutes, Aslef issued a statement stating they had been delayed.

The union's Scottish organiser, Kevin Lindsay, said both sides were looking to see how the offers made so far could be amended, with different options put forward.

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"Both sides have explored what was on the table previously – how we can re-jig it to see if we can make an improved offer," he said.

"Both sides have tabled ideas and both sides are now away to look at them and will resume talks later in the week.

"If ScotRail continue to talk in the manner they are talking, I can see us reaching somewhere, but if they don't I can see us reaching industrial action."

In recent weeks drivers have refused to work on their rest days, causing disruption and the issuing of a temporary timetable to provide "greater certainty” to passengers.

The changes have cut more than 700 services across the network, with the times of last trains on many routes brought forward. A reduced Sunday timetable was also put in place at the weekend.

Talks between Aslef and ScotRail will resume later this week. Picture: John DevlinTalks between Aslef and ScotRail will resume later this week. Picture: John Devlin
Talks between Aslef and ScotRail will resume later this week. Picture: John Devlin

ScotRail’s latest offer includes a three-year, no compulsory redundancy agreement, a commitment to bring Sundays into the working week, a 10 per cent increase to the Sunday working allowance, and enhanced maternity and adoption leave payments.

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David Simpson, the newly nationalised operator’s service delivery director, described Monday’s meeting with Aslef as “constructive”.

He said: “It’s positive that Aslef has recognised that the negotiations need compromise and have been willing to explore further the significantly improved offer that has been made.

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“We’re hopeful we can resolve the current dispute and work together to encourage people back to the railway.”

A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland refused to be drawn on the adjournment, saying: "We welcome the continuation of pay talks between Aslef and ScotRail. It would be inappropriate to comment further until they are complete."

One source familiar with the ongoing talks told The Scotsman the decision to adjourn should be viewed in a positive light, pointing out the situation was different to last week.

Back then, Aslef's executive committee last week rejected a 4.2 per cent pay increase and urged the continuation of talks, while warning of a ballot on strike action if discussions were halted.

ScotRail, in turn, said it was “astonished” the union had not asked its members to consider its “substantially improved” offer.

Last week, Mr Lindsay said he believed a deal was “close”, adding: “If we get an improved offer, an acceptable offer, there will be no strike action. It's as simple as that.

“The ball is clearly in ScotRail's court now. They can come up with an improved offer using the money that is already there in this package.

“Let's get a deal sorted, let’s get the railway running. That is what we want.”

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