ScotRail strikes: Workers to be balloted for Scotland strikes in train driver dispute

A ballot of ScotRail workers over potential strikes will be held on April 11

ScotRail workers are to be balloted for strikes in a dispute over driver-only operation.

More than 100 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union will vote in the next few weeks on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action. The union said the move was in response to plans to run services on the Barrhead and East Kilbride routes without a second member of staff, at the discretion of the driver.

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RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “ScotRail are trying to sneak through DOO [driver-only operation] by the backdoor by putting train drivers in a difficult position, giving them the power to decide whether a train runs or not without a second staff member on board.

ScotRail workers are to be balloted over strike actionScotRail workers are to be balloted over strike action
ScotRail workers are to be balloted over strike action

“It is important for safety and the comfort of passengers that a second person is on these ScotRail services and we will resist all attempts to endanger our members’ jobs.

“The Scottish Government needs to make an intervention to stop DOO on the Barrhead and East Kilbride routes taking place.

“Members will be incensed at the behaviour of ScotRail bosses and we are confident they will deliver a strong mandate for strike action.”

The ballot will end on April 11.

The RMT move follows train drivers' union Aslef agreeing a deal with ScotRail, which it said would guarantee trains would operate a second member of staff on board for the first time for nearly 40 years.

It would see 118 additional ticket examiners recruited for trains where drivers control the doors, and 36 more conductors for services where such staff lock and unlock doors at stations.

Aslef Scotland secretary Kevin Lindsay said: "We accepted the proposal because a second person was guaranteed on every train. This is something our members have been pushing hard for.

"This deal means whilst the drivers will operate the doors on 58 per cent of ScotRail trains, each train will have a guaranteed crew of two people. The discretion [over operating trains just with a driver] is to allow for extreme emergencies.

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"We see this as a major victory. We've created more railway jobs, and increased staffing on trains and no train will run with only only person on board unless the driver says so."

Mr Lindsay declined to say whether drivers would operate trains single-handedly in any strike until action was approved in the ballot and announced by the RMT.

The latest dispute comes with fares on all ScotRail services to rise by 8.7 per cent from April 1.

Transport minister Fiona Hyslop said in December a freeze on rail fares, which had previously been put in place in response to the cost-of-living crisis, was now "unsustainable".

The hike will mean a Edinburgh-Glasgow day return – at blanket off-peak levels – rises from £14.20 to £15.40. A day return from Aberdeen-Glasgow increases from £65.20 to £70.90.

However, the suspension of peak fares for ScotRail services remains in place until at least the end of June.

Ms Hyslop previously said: "We know that any increase is unwelcome for passengers, therefore we have kept the rise as low as possible to maintain the attractiveness and affordability of rail as a travel option.”



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