RMT members voted on Tuesday to strike after rejecting an improved 5 per cent pay offer from ScotRail, with the union warning it would continue to “bring Scotland’s trains to their knees” until an acceptable offer is on the table.
This is despite the Scottish Government, which nationalised ScotRail in April, stating “there can be no increase on the current pay offer”, adding industrial action was likely to mean “continued timetable changes and more short-term cancellations”.
The strike action will see ScotRail staff walk out on the final day of the SNP’s party conference in Aberdeen, with action potentially coinciding with speeches from the First Minister and other senior SNP figures.
It is also the latest in a long line of industrial action taken by public sector employees in Scotland this year, following council workers in the summer, police officers, and potentially teachers if they vote for strike action.
Staff striking will include train conductors, train ticket examiners, hospitality staff, engineers, cleaners and ticket office staff.
The union is seeking an 8.2 per cent pay rise, in line with early 2022 inflation figures, plus £1,000 to staff for the use of technology.
Scottish organiser for the RMT, Mick Hogg, said the dates of the strike were to cause maximum disruption to the SNP conference, which is being held between Saturday, October 8 and Monday, October 10 inclusive.
UK-wide action will see disruption on the Saturday extended into Sunday due to the impact from night-shift signallers, followed by major disruption on the Monday.
Mr Hogg said: “Our message is quite simple. Listen to what key and essential workers are actually seeking because we are not asking for the planet.
"All we are actually asking for is a decent pay increase that recognises the cost-of-living crisis.
"If they can recognise that and actually address the cost-of-living crisis with a decent pay increase, then this strike, this dispute, can come to an end.
"Failure to recognise that and it will be full steam ahead until such time someone, somewhere, listens and we will continue to bring Scotland’s trains to their knees until someone somewhere sits up to listen.”
Plans for future action could see the union target major sporting events such as the rugby internationals in October and November, as well as looking to extend UK-wide strikes in Scotland by targeting the days following for ScotRail specific action.
The RMT is set to meet ScotRail on Tuesday to discuss the dispute and planned strike action.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "ScotRail knows this offer is not good enough and needs to take into account the escalating cost-of-living crisis.
"Our members refuse to be made poorer and will exercise their industrial strength to let ScotRail know that they will not rest until they are paid what they deserve."
Phil Campbell, head of customer operations at ScotRail, said: "ScotRail has today been notified by the RMT that its members will hold ScotRail strike action on Monday, October 10. This will have significant consequences for the service we are able to offer our customers.
"We will update our customers in the coming days on the full extent of the impact of industrial action."
The ScotRail staff strikes will follow more than 40,000 RMT members from Network Rail and 15 train operating companies taking to picket lines on October 8, with the union claiming the action will effectively shut down the railway network.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This is a disappointing outcome, particularly in light of the very good offer made.
“The pay offer represents a 5 per cent increase in basic pay, plus an excess revenue share premium potentially worth up to £195 every four weeks if revenue targets are exceeded.
“In August, ScotRail had tabled a further improved offer of a £300 payment to every full-time equivalent member of the general grades and pro-rata for part-time staff, as recognition of the need to use technology, like mobile devices and upgraded ticket printing machines.
“Any industrial action will undoubtedly have negative impacts on passengers and also employees. It is also likely to mean continued timetable changes and more short-term cancellations disadvantaging everyone.
“We want to provide a long-term, secure future for Scotland’s railway, so encouraging more people to travel by rail and ensure that Scotland’s railway plays a pivotal role in addressing climate change and meeting our targets to cut transport emissions.
“The issues at hand need to be settled, but there can be no increase on the current pay offer. The Scottish Government will honour the agreement to fund the previously agreed 2.2 per cent through the public sector pay policy, with the remainder self-funded through increased revenue and rostering efficiencies.
"In contrast to the UK Government, we are still very much committed to working collaboratively with trade unions to make the publicly-owned ScotRail a success.”