MEMBERS of the Unite union at ScotRail have voted in favour of strikes by 75 per cent, while 90 per cent of the members who voted were in favour of action ‘short of strike’.
As in two recent RMT votes for strikes, the dispute is over pay. RMT conductors are preparing to stage their third 24-hour strike on Sunday, while ticket examiners also voted for strikes last week.
Unite held a ‘consultative ballot’ of engineers, and is accusing ScotRail of ‘refusing to make a meaningful pay offer’. The union is also alleging that ScotRail has withdrawn ‘a number of entitlements from workers including the Rest Day Working Agreement with Unite in April 2020 for engineering workers’.
ScotRail, which is owned by Abellio, has just posted a loss of more than £64 million in the year to March 2020 and warned that the lockdowns which began that month have also affected its business.
Unite industrial officer Pat McIlvogue told The Scotsman: ‘Despite the best efforts of Abellio ScotRail to apply pressure on our members not to take the next step in holding them to account our members have supported taking industrial action in this consultative ballot.
‘This should be a wake-up call to Abellio ScotRail management that Unite’s members will no longer tolerate being treated unacceptably.
‘We will seek further meetings in a final attempt to find a remedy, and we will inform the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland of the result. If Abellio ScotRail refuses to positively engage with us then we will have no option but to move forward with an industrial action campaign.’
ScotRail engineering director Syeda Ghufran said: ‘I am disappointed engineers have backed Unite’s reckless push for strike action. ScotRail has a proud record of providing high-paid, high-skilled engineering jobs. While other transport operators have had to cut jobs and reduced wages during the pandemic, I am proud that ScotRail has been able to protect all jobs, wages, and conditions.
‘At a time when the railway faces the most serious financial crisis in its history, we need to work together to recover ScotRail, get passengers using the trains again, and build a more sustainable operation. Strike action is divisive and wrong,’
Abellio will lose the ScotRail franchise next March, when the Scottish Government is to nationalise the operation by transferring it to a public body.