Trade Union body RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers) have confirmed that their members who work for ScotRail and the Caledonian Sleeper will be striking over the course of global climate summit, COP26, which will be taking place in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November.
Members of the RMT union voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action, with 84% backing the decision. The strike comes in response to a long-term dispute over overtime pay, working conditions, and a proposed cut to 300 rail services that union members are concerned may lead to lay-offs.
Strike action has been taking place in Scotland since April 2021, with the majority of Sunday services cancelled since then.
Mick Lynch, General Secretary of RMT, has stated:
“Both Scotrail and the Caledonian Sleeper have had adequate time to come up with a fair pay settlement for Scotland’s rail workers in advance of COP26. Instead they have kicked the can down the road and left us with no option but to put this action on today.
“We know that these strikes will close rail services in Scotland but the blame for that lies with Abellio, SERCO and the political leadership at Holyrood.
“It’s time for all parties to take their rail workers seriously, get back round the table and give these staff at the front line of our green transport services the justice, respect and reward they deserve.”
ScotRail management recently proposed a 4.7% pay increase over the course of two years, which has been rejected by RMT, who argue that the "lousy, rotten offer" would require “members to sell hard-earned terms and conditions in order to get a pay rise”.
A spokesperson for ScotRail commented on the rejection of the offer:
“It’s extremely disappointing that the RMT have opted to continue with this highly damaging strike action, particularly when a pay offer, negotiated over several weeks, has been made to the trade unions.
“We’re seeing customers gradually return to Scotland’s Railway, but the scale of the financial situation ScotRail is facing is stark."
Come March 2022, the rail service will be nationalised once Abellio's contract runs out. The Scottish Government have been providing emergency funds to the company after the significant reduction in fares during the Covid-19 lockdowns. The end of Abellio's contract comes three years ahead of schedule, due to concerns with the company's performance.