Bosses at the publicly owned rail operator say the action means there will be “widespread disruption across the country, with a very limited number of services operating on a small number of routes”. Among those who will be impacted will be rugby fans travelling to Murrayfield to see Scotland take on Australia in the autumn test series.
However, leaders of the RMT trade union have insisted they will strike for “as long as it takes” to get what they regard as a fair pay deal. More than 2,000 ScotRail employees are expected to take part in the action – with staff working as conductors, ticket examiners, station staff, engineering depot staff and CCTV operators all involved.
As a result, ScotRail has been forced to cancel the majority of its services, with trains operating on just three routes across the network: Milngavie to Edinburgh Waverley via Glasgow Queen Street Low Level (half hourly service); Glasgow Central to Lanark (hourly service) and Glasgow Central – Larkhall (hourly service).
The action is going ahead despite an improved offer being made – with this understood to be worth around 7.5% comprising a £500 uplift on top of the 5 per cent already offered. But Mick Hogg, the union’s Scotland organiser, said on Friday that this was not enough, claiming: “We want more because the retail price index is 12.6 per cent so the offer that is on the table comes nowhere near acceptable to RMT members.”
ScotRail had previously said the pay offer was conditional on this weekend’s industrial action being withdrawn. Further action is also planned for November 5,7 and 9 when Network Rail staff who are RMT members will walk out in the ongoing dispute over pay and working conditions.
David Simpson, ScotRail’s delivery director said the RMT ‘s demands were “unaffordable”. Speaking ahead of this latest strike getting under way he said: “We’ve had a very frustrating week with the RMT. We’ve worked hard since the ballot which caused the strike action to find a way to get more money in our staff’s pockets in a way that is affordable to the Scottish public given the financial challenges facing the industry.
“This week we were able to find a way to improve the offer significantly.
“We hear from members they are keen to get this resolved and keen to start providing a great service to customers again.”
Mr Simpson said: “What we want to do is get back to running a full timetable, providing the service we know our passengers want.”