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by Andrew Learmonth
05 October 2021
ScotRail workers set to strike during COP26

ScotRail workers set to strike during COP26

Scotland's rail service looks set to be thrown into chaos during the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, after ScotRail workers voted to take part in a fresh series of strikes.

Unite the Union said its members had been “left with no choice” after pay talks with franchise operator Abellio.Unite said that 78 per cent of its Abellio Scotrail engineering members voted in support of strike action in a 68.4 per cent ballot turnout.

In a separate question, 92 per cent supported taking industrial action short of a strike.

The union are also calling on ScotRail to reinstate of the Rest Day Working Agreement for around 250 engineers who provide maintenance, overhaul and repair services for the railway rolling stock.

Pat McIlvogue, Unite industrial officer, said: “Unite has been left with no choice but to resolutely respond to the reckless behaviour displayed by Abellio Scotrail management.

“While discussions have continued these talks have produced absolutely nothing. There has been no pay offer and no movement by the company.

“The talks have been spun out and cynically used as a delaying tactic to avoid the national embarrassment of having strike action during the COP26 climate change conference which is being held in Glasgow.

“Well, these tactics have spectacularly backfired because our engineering members will now hold several 24 hour stoppages in the coming weeks.”

“We want the Scottish public to know that we have exhausted the process. Unite’s members have been holding action short of strike in an attempt to get Abellio Scotrail to wake up, and to recognise the storm that they have created to no effect.

“Now strike action will severely disrupt events and the COP26 climate change conference due to this shambolic company.”

He added: “The Scottish Government and Transport Scotland must urgently intervene because the Abellio Scotrail management clearly lack the ability, humility and intelligence to live up to their responsibilities with respect to the workforce, and the Scottish public.”

The RMT has already been in dispute with rail bosses for the last six months, with services brought to a halt on a Sunday. They too are now balloting drivers, conductors and ticket.

Unions staged a protest outside Glasgow’s Queen Street station yesterday as it was officially opened by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. 

Asked about the strike, Nicola Sturgeon said: "I hope we can get the dispute resolved and I hope we can get that resolved ahead of COP, but not just for the reasons of COP but for the reason that we don't want disruption in our railways on Sunday or any other day of the week."

She added: "I know parties are keen to continue talks, and get back round the table and I would strongly encourage both sides in this dispute to get round the table and find a resolution that is in the interest of those who work in our railways.

"They work hard at all times, but have worked particularly hard to keep the country moving during the pandemic, but fundamentally it is in the interests of the travelling public as well."

Read the most recent article written by Andrew Learmonth - SNP minister's 'disappointment and loss' over Derek Mackay texting scandal

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