ScotRail timetable change: Union leader says member decision on new deal would take three weeks

A key union leader has confirmed any revised ScotRail pay deal put to members would take at least three weeks to conclude as fresh talks were confirmed for Monday in a bid to break a deadlock that has slashed train services across the country.

Kevin Lindsay, from the trade union Aslef, claimed a pay deal with ScotRail was “close” as he suggested the financial package could be "rejigged" to be acceptable to both sides.

But he insisted “the ball is clearly in ScotRail’s court now” when it comes to resolving the dispute over pay, which has led to the rail operator slashing about a third of services on an emergency timetable.

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Mr Lindsay told The Scotsman he had been willing to resume talks on Thursday or over the weekend, but ScotRail had wanted to meet on Monday.

ScotRail passengers face an extended period on a reduced timetable. Picture: PAScotRail passengers face an extended period on a reduced timetable. Picture: PA
ScotRail passengers face an extended period on a reduced timetable. Picture: PA

He said any new offer could be recommended by the negotiating team for acceptance by the union's national executive committee, or recommended to be put to members, or rejected.

If any deal was put to members, it would take about three weeks to conclude.

Should it be rejected and a strike ballot held, the result would be in mid-August.

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Mr Lindsay separately told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme it could see the union “ballot for a withdrawal of all overtime working” by drivers, as well as seeking a series of 24-hour strikes.

He said: “I do not want to go on strike. We’ve never been on strike in Scotland for over 20 years. I’m a negotiator, I want to get back round the table with ScotRail, thrash out a deal.

“I believe we are close to a deal, I believe there is money in settlement that is already there that can be used in a different way to ensure we get a fair settlement and we can get Scotland’s trains running again.”

The emergency timetable for ScotRail services has been brought in as drivers are currently refusing to work on rest days.

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An increased pay offer of a 4.2 per cent rise has already been rejected by Aslef as unacceptable without being put to a formal ballot of members. David Simpson, the ScotRail service delivery director, described it as “astonishing” the deal had not been put to members.

Mr Lindsay defended the move, saying Aslef had “many different layers of democracy in the union”.

Aslef’s national executive committee rejected the pay rise, with Mr Lindsay saying this body includes train drivers and is “elected by train drivers to make decisions on behalf of train drivers”.

Mr Lindsay said: “If we get an improved offer, and acceptable offer, there will be no strike action. It’s as simple as that.” His comments came as he insisted the emergency timetable put in place by ScotRail in a bid to prevent short-notice cancellations “goes too far”.

Speaking about the timetable, Mr Lindsay said: “It cuts too deep. There’s train drivers sitting spare in every mess room up and down the country. That’s how ScotRail could suddenly magic additional trains on the night of the football last night.”

Transport Scotland said on Thursday it was “disappointed” Aslef had dismissed the 4.2 per cent offer.

A spokesperson said: “We all need to work together to make nationalisation a success..”

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