Rail strike COP26 Scotland: RMT says 'gun held to their heads' as Scottish Government sets Wednesday deadline to accept offer ahead of climate change conference

The Scottish Government has given a deadline on an offer to a transport trade union following the ScotRail dispute and train strike action ahead of COP26.

The Scottish Government has given a mid-week deadline on an offer to RMT following the ScotRail dispute and train strike action ahead of COP26.  Picture: John Devlin

The RMT rail union has said a gun is being pointed at its head after a deadline was set for accepting a pay offer which would avoid a strike during Cop26.

Graeme Dey, the Scottish Government’s transport minister, announced that the Government put a deadline of Wednesday on an offer they have made to the trade union RMT.

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The settlement on offer to RMT members would see an increase in basic salaries between £1700- £2600. There is an additional £300 for supporting services during COP26 and an enhanced rest day working rate.

It comes as RMT confirmed conductors and ticket examiners will strike alongside colleagues throughout COP26 in Glasgow after the union vowed to continue strike action in protest at pay and conditions on Friday.

Mr Dey commented that the offer is ‘fair' and has accused RMT of being ‘misguided.’

Mick Lynch, RMT’s general secretary said: “We have been given a wholly arbitrary deadline of 5pm on Wednesday to accept this deal or the whole pay offer will be pulled.

“You cannot conduct serious negotiations with that sort of gun pointed at your head.”

He added: “Our message to Nicola Sturgeon, Transport Scotland, Abellio (operator of ScotRail) and Serco (operator of the Caledonian Sleeper) is that there is still time to resolve the pay disputes but it requires some serious movement, the lifting of bogus deadlines and genuine talks.

“The union is available to get those talks on anytime, any place, anywhere. ”

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Mr Dey said: “We remain utterly perplexed at the position the RMT leadership is taking here. While we think their action is misguided and does their members no favours, we of course respect the right of trade unions to do what they think is appropriate for their membership.

“But we are clear that this is a fair and good offer that will put cash in the pockets of rail workers who have worked hard during the pandemic. This is evidenced by the fact that the 3 other rail unions (ASLEF UNITE and TSSA) have accepted it.

“ScotRail, with the full support of the Scottish Government, has tried a number of times to reach a deal with the RMT leadership – as of yesterday, the offer being made to its members consisted of a 4.7% pay increase over this and next year, a £300 payment for COP26, an additional payment equivalent to three hours salary for booking on for a Rest Day shift for the rest of the year.”

Mr Dey said that the Government was close to an agreement with negotiators but RMT leaders “then moved the goalposts.”

He added: “What the RMT is now asking for is neither reasonable nor affordable."

"The travelling public deserve and need to know what rail service will be operating in the next two weeks. That is why we put a deadline of Wednesday for this offer to be accepted – the enhanced offer remains on the table until then.

"At that point, we must focus on making alternative plans for rail operations during COP26."

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