The RMT rail union has begun to ballot conductors for industrial action in a dispute over driver-only train services.
Talks between RMT representatives and Abellio ScotRail over the the introduction of new electric and high speed inter-city trains on Scotland’s rail network broke down when the union said it had not received the assurances it had sought on the issue.
It opposes any extension of driver-only or driver-controlled services and wants guarantees the safety role of conductors and their role in operating train doors will not be reduced or abolished.
ScotRail managing director Phil Verster has described the ballot as ‘’inexplicable’’, suggesting the company was being ‘’needlessly dragged’’ into a dispute between the union and other train operators in London and the South East of England.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT members should not have to face the risk of their role and responsibilities being reduced and undermined.
“RMT is in no doubt that our members will stand together and demonstrate the strength of feeling across the ScotRail network during this dispute. The union remains available for further talks.”
A ScotRail spokeswoman said the the union was being “unhelpful” as the company was willing to guarantee staff jobs, terms and conditions.
She said: “As we have made clear in our public statements and our conversations with our people, we just want to be able to talk to our local representatives so that we can find a solution that works best for our customers and our people.
“We want to talk, but you cannot have a meaningful discussion when you are told by RMT officials that, unless you agree with them, you will face industrial action.”
The ballot of 560 guards will close on June 7.