ScotRail strike ballot: RMT calls vote over change to control of trains on Glasgow-Barrhead line
A strike ballot has been called by ScotRail’s largest union in an attempt to prevent control of trains being switched from conductors to drivers on the newly-electrified Glasgow to Barrhead line, The Scotsman has learned.
The move reignites a row stretching back more than a decade over trains switching to “driver only operation” which have triggered several rounds of strikes which have disrupted services.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) announced the vote as it reaffirmed its opposition to conductors, who control train doors on some routes, being replaced by lower-grade ticket examiners who have no role in operating trains.
It followed The Scotsman revealing the impending dispute earlier on Wednesday when RMT officials warned ScotRail against the move for the class 380 electric trains which are due to take over the Barrhead route on December 10. Train drivers union Aslef also opposes such changes.
The train operator backed down from introducing driver only operation on the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line and other routes when it was electrified after strikes by the RMT in 2016.
The same issue caused prolonged industrial action among train operators in the south of England which led to severe disruption to passengers.
In a letter to RMT members, general secretary Mick Lynch said: “I have received reports that in recent discussions with RMT representatives about the newly-electrified line, Scotrail has indicated an extension of driver only operating (DOO).
"The introduction of DOO is not only a breach to existing agreements, but also a direct attack on ScotRail members. The RMT will not accept any extension or introduction of DOO.”
Mr Lynch said ScotRail had failed to guarantee there would be a “safety critical guard” on the trains.
He called on members to back strike action in ballot among conductors based at Glasgow Central, Ayr, Dumfries and Stranraer to be held from November 8 to 16.
ScotRail customer operations director Phil Campbell said: "It's very disappointing that the RMT is going to ballot its members when no formal proposal has been tabled by ScotRail and when discussions are ongoing.
"We urge the RMT to get back round the table to discuss the best way forward for customers, staff, and the taxpayer."
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