ScotRail dispute: RMT calls off strikes and puts new offer to vote

A series of ScotRail strikes that would have continued until Christmas Eve were called off by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on Thursday after the union was made a new offer that would increase pay by up to 8.5 per cent.

Confirmation of the move came hours after The Scotsman revealed an improved offer was being put to the union’s national executive committee (NEC) following talks on Wednesday, which ScotRail described as “constructive”.

The deal, if accepted, would see the pay of some 2,000 staff such as train conductors, station staff, engineers and cleaners increase by an average of 7.5 per cent, with a rise of more than 8.5 per cent for the lowest paid, plus improvements in other benefits.

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The union had called strikes for Saturday, November 19 and every Friday and Saturday in December up to and including Christmas Eve. These would have followed two one-day strikes, which brought all but three lines to a halt.

The RMT represents station staff, train conductors, engineers and cleaners among others. Picture: John DevlinThe RMT represents station staff, train conductors, engineers and cleaners among others. Picture: John Devlin
The RMT represents station staff, train conductors, engineers and cleaners among others. Picture: John Devlin

The RMT had rejected a series of previous offers, including the last one that would have increased the wages of the lowest paid by 7.4 per cent.

ScotRail said the union’s NEC had agreed to put the offer to a members’ vote, with the strikes and an overtime ban suspended pending the result. The RMT said the ballot result was due on November 24.

ScotRail said the new offer included an increase from £500 to £750 for “acceptance of technology” consolidated into basic pay, on top of a 5 per cent basic increase. This includes for using mobile devices to check and sell tickets, and using a passenger assistance app.

ScotRail head of customer operations Phil Campbell said: "We’re pleased to have reached agreement with the RMT, so that our staff will have a say on our very strong pay offer. If accepted, this will deliver an average 7.5 per cent basic pay increase, job security for at least six years, and increases allowances in commission payments.

“We encourage RMT members to vote for this offer, so that they can receive a well-earned pay rise and everyone at ScotRail can focus on delivering for customers across the country.”

The Scottish Conservatives said the RMT was finally doing the “right thing”. Transport spokesperson Graham Simpson said: “I am pleased that the RMT has suspended strikes, which would have ruined Christmas. They are finally doing the right thing by putting an offer to their members. I hope they accept it.

“We can't have this disruption every year. We need to have better industrial relations moving ahead – causing misery for the paying public is not the way to do it.”

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Robert Samson, senior stakeholder manager at passenger watchdog Transport Focus, said: “Passengers will be pleased to see positive steps to end the ongoing disruption and hopefully be able to plan rail journeys in the run-up to Christmas. We hope that the dispute can now be ended quickly.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “We welcome the RMT decision to take this latest offer to a referendum. That is the right and democratic approach … we would encourage those taking part to consider the very real benefits of accepting this deal, one which is both fair and affordable.”

The move comes six days after the RMT called off three further Britain-wide strikes in a separate dispute with Network Rail, pending further talks.

However, the drivers’ union Aslef on Thursday called another Britain-wide strike that will affect several cross-Border operators, but not ScotRail on Saturday, November 26. It is part of another separate pay dispute.



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