ScotRail to carry talks with union in effort to resolve pay dispute | Rail transport

ScotRail will open talks with the rail union Aslef on Tuesday to resolve a pay dispute that has led to the practice operator axing greater than 1,000 providers from its timetable.

The firm confirmed on Monday that it will meet union leaders hours after Aslef’s Scottish organiser, Kevin Lindsay, accused it of repeatedly ignoring his invites to barter.

The newly nationalised firm has lower a few third of its providers, together with 700 weekday trains and practically 350 at weekends, from Monday after a big majority of its 1,200 drivers refused to work additional time.

One massive occasion anticipated to be hit is Scotland’s sold-out World Cup qualifying match towards Ukraine at Hampden, Glasgow, at 7.45pm on 1 June. Under ScotRail’s revised timetables, native practice providers will end halfway by means of the sport, threatening journey chaos for followers.

ScotRail depends closely on its drivers volunteering to work additional time or on relaxation days. Its drivers are livid that the corporate has verbally provided a pay rise of two.2% this yr and a revenue-sharing settlement, and have refused to tackle additional shifts.

The cuts have been greeted with dismay by commuters, opposition MSPs and companies, with Nicola Sturgeon, the primary minister, dealing with intense stress to intervene in parliament final week. She mentioned ScotRail’s drivers have been already effectively paid, incomes greater than £50,000 a yr, and wanted to make cheap calls for.

Lindsay mentioned ScotRail had refused to carry pay talks after the 2 sides held a quick assembly on 4 May, when ScotRail tabled its pay supply.

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Lindsay wrote to Sturgeon on Monday urging her to intervene within the “shambolic” pay talks, saying: “The way hardworking, committed and skilled rail staff are being treated is appalling. The pay award being offered is just not credible.

“A 2.2% pay increase (offered verbally not in writing) at a time when inflation is nearing 10% is a significant real-terms pay cut. It is neither fair nor reasonable to expect train drivers, or indeed any worker, to accept such a cut in their pay at the same time as their cost of living is soaring.”

Aslef is making ready to poll its members in early June to hunt approval for industrial motion, together with an all-out strike, to enhance the pay supply.

He mentioned ScotRail had lower way more providers than it wanted to; many drivers have been sitting idle in mess rooms at stations across the nation with out trains to drive. “There are train drivers willing to drive trains. ScotRail has cut services far too much, far too deeply. It’s just bizarre. I don’t understand why they don’t want to talk to us.”

ScotRail has been approached for a response to Lindsay’s allegations. Jenny Gilruth, the Scottish transport minister, advised ScotRail was planning to fulfill Aslef this week. She mentioned she was working with the operator to resolve the disaster.

“We need to reach a resolution,” she advised BBC Scotland. “Quite rightly, passengers are deeply frustrated. I’ve been hearing reports this morning. I travelled by train this morning to [Edinburgh] Waverley, where I am today, and people are scunnered [disgusted], quite frankly, by what’s happened.”

Aslef officers imagine ScotRail could also be utilizing the pay dispute as a canopy to completely lower its timetable, partly as a result of passenger numbers have fallen sharply through the Covid disaster, and a few observers anticipate numbers to stay beneath pre-pandemic ranges as folks’s work habits change.

A report final yr by Prof Iain Docherty of the University of Stirling mentioned demand for rail was prone to improve considerably in future as the necessity for low- or zero-carbon public transport rises to deal with harder local weather targets.

But within the medium time period, he mentioned Covid would have a big influence on demand. “A scenario of around 20% less demand for rail commuting in a post-pandemic ‘new normal’ is therefore a reasonable starting point for future planning assumptions,” he mentioned.

The ScotRail controversy has elevated criticisms of Sturgeon’s authorities, which incorporates two Scottish Green ministers. Opposition events have attacked its transport methods and financial competence amid a long-running dispute over the nation’s ailing ferry providers and a badly mishandled ferry alternative contract.

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