Compromise is the key to ending rail dispute - Scotsman comment

A new year, same old rail strike. The RMT’s nationwide action is again taking place today, impacting Scotland as it involves Network Rail staff in safety-critical roles.

While the Scottish bank holiday will limit disruption north of the border, there is no doubt the future strikes will once again cause transport chaos.

As we have said before it is incumbent on both the unions and, in this case, the UK government and rail operators to get round the table and reach a compromise and bring the seemingly never ending disruption to a halt as quickly as possible.

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It is possible, as we have seen with the Scottish Government striking a pay deal over ScotRail pay, and surely only takes a willingness to negotiate.

That – and the acceptance of a compromise – must come from both sides.

While many will have sympathy with the workers, union leaders have to be realistic with their demands for inflation-matching pay rises. Similarly the government must be open to talks.

Mick Lynch, the now famous general secretary of the RMT, said yesterday there was an “unprecedented level of ministerial interference” preventing a settlement.

The Government hit back by denying it is now the main stumbling block to ending the dispute.

The fact is the public do not care who is at fault. People having their lives disrupted and being forced to change their travel plans simply want it resolved as quickly as possible.

Apparently, unlike the trains, the RMT is available round-the-clock for negotiations.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said the Government had “demonstrated it is being reasonable and stands ready to facilitate a resolution to rail disputes” adding “It’s time the unions came to the table”.

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So perhaps fewer press releases and briefing to the media, and more talking would be useful if they are both so open to a resolution. The unions must lower their demands and ministers have to show they are serious.

We, like the entire travelling public across the UK, hope to see signs of progress in the days ahead.