RMT union: In pay dispute, ScotRail workers could strike

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After protracted talks over a pay dispute broke down, ScotRail workers are to go on strike.

Today, the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union announced its preparations for a strike action ballot and other forms of industrial action for almost 2,500 workers across Scotland.

The union claimed that lengthy talks would not lead to a pay offer meeting the “very reasonable” expectations of the entire workforce.

For all Scotrail workers, the union has been working to negotiate a 2020 wage raise – but says the company is giving it a “poor show.”

On Tuesday, the ballot opens and closes on Dec. 8.

“RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said, “After a long period of talks aimed at securing a negotiated pay settlement at Scotrail, members of the RMT are furious and disappointed that the organization does not understand the importance of all workers across the workforce who in these dangerous times work just as hard on the front line.

“The RMT is looking for a decent and responsible offer to settle this dispute and the union remains available for talks.”

Alex White, chief operating officer of ScotRail, said, “At a time of national crisis, the RMT’s push for industrial action is wrong.”

“ScotRail is proud to provide well-paid, high-skilled jobs for more than 5,200 people.”

He added, “While thousands of jobs have been cut by other transit agencies across the nation, not a single member of the core employees of ScotRail has lost their job, been furloughed or had any base pay reductions.”

“This is thanks to the emergency funding we have received from the Scottish Government,” he said.

Passengers and taxpayers will have no sympathy for an RMT-led strike that will stop the pandemic from bringing physicians, nurses, care workers and other heroes to work.

ScotRail said ridership is down 80 percent year-over-year because of the closure, while ridership and revenue were down 95 percent at the height of the closure earlier this year.

The company said its train cleaners’ average base salary is more than £ 27,000, with some earning more than £ 36,000, while the drivers’ average base salary is more than £ 32,000.

The terms of the Emergency Management Agreement (EMA) with the Scottish government, in which the government will provide extra funds to compensate for the loss of income and ensure that workers can be compensated and operations can be continued, mean that ScotRail has not furloughed a single member of its 5,200 employees, cut any permanent jobs or made improvements to the base wages of employees, the company said.

“Under the terms of the EMA, ScotRail cannot enter into pay discussions with unions until it is authorized to do so by Transport Scotland. Given the uncertain state of public finances, no authorization has been given,” it said in a statement.

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