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RMT push for industrial action is wrong – ScotRail

Posted: 16th November 2020

The RMT’s push for industrial action at a time of national crisis is wrong, ScotRail said today.

While ScotRail is providing job security for more than 5,200 permanent staff, RMT bosses are agitating for possible strike action over pay.

ScotRail’s passenger numbers remain 80 per cent down year-on-year because of lockdown restrictions. At the height of the initial lockdown earlier this year, passenger numbers and revenue dropped by 95 per cent.

Despite this, the RMT is balloting its members for possible strike action because there has been no pay increase for 2020/21.

RMT members include ScotRail’s train cleaning team and conductors. The average base salary for ScotRail train cleaners is more than £27,000, with some earning more than £36,000. The average conductor base salary is more than £32,000.

All ScotRail staff also benefit from generous terms and conditions, including access to a defined benefit pension scheme and healthcare benefits.

The terms of the emergency measures agreement (EMA) with the Scottish Government, whereby the government has provided additional funding to make up the revenue shortfall to ensure staff can be paid and services can operate, mean ScotRail has not placed a single member of its 5,200 staff on furlough, cut any permanent roles, or made any changes to base staff salaries.

This is in stark contrast to many other transport operators across the country, which are cutting thousands of jobs.

Under the terms of the EMA, ScotRail can only begin pay talks with the trade unions when authorised to do so by Transport Scotland. Given the uncertainty around the public finances, no authorisation has been provided.

Following a recent survey of its ScotRail members, the trade union TSSA concluded ‘it is clear that a significant majority are not currently in favour of participating in strike action with the consensus on this particular point weighted toward job security over a pay increase.’

Alex White, ScotRail Chief Operating Officer, said:

“The RMT’s push for industrial action at a time of national crisis is wrong.

“ScotRail is proud to provide well-paid and highly skilled jobs for more than 5,200 people. While other transport operators across the country have cut thousands of jobs, not a single member of ScotRail’s permanent staff has lost their job, been placed on furlough, or had any cuts to base salaries. This is thanks to the emergency funding we have secured from the Scottish Government.

“Passengers and taxpayers will not have much sympathy for any RMT-led strike action which stops doctors, nurses, care workers, and the other heroes of the pandemic from getting to their work.”

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Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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