Scotrail guard strike suspended but tensions remain


Ongoing issues include safety, disability access to train services and single crew trains

STRIKE ACTION by train guards affecting Scotrail services across Scotland was suspended last night (3 August), after successful negotiations between the Scotrail and the RMT union despite outstanding issues.

The dispute has seen guards take part in a series of rolling strike actions since June, with disruption affecting at least 30 per cent of train services across Scotland on strike days. The RMT union launched the actions after failing to receive assurances that the practice of Drive Only Operated (DOO) trains, which sees services operating without guards for operating doors and safety procedures, would not be extended.

An RMT statement released after the meeting with Scotrail, which is owned by Dutch firm Abellio,  said that strikes would be suspended to allow for further talks.

It read: “That we note that a meeting has taken place with our elected representatives and lead officer in Scotland to discuss the recent proposals from Scotrail over DOO/DCO, further we note that it is the majority view our negotiating team that all further industrial action should be suspended to allow for further talks to take place with the company.

“We therefore instruct the general secretary to suspend all pending strike action and action short of strike, further we instruct the general secretary to arrange an urgent meeting with Abellio Scotrail to discuss platform interface (platform train despatch procedures) with Aslef [train drivers union] in attendance.”

Background: RMT accuse Scotrail of playing fast and loose with passenger safety as strike enters second day

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said that “sufficient progress” had been made to allow talks to continue with strikes suspended, and paid tribute to Scotrail employees for their resilience.

He said: “The union has made sufficient progress to enable us to suspend the current programme of industrial action on Scotrail to allow for further detailed discussions on the issue of platform train despatch procedures. Our colleagues from Aslef will be involved in those discussions with the company.

“The progress we have been able to make in this dispute is entirely down to the resilience, determination and strength of our Scotrail members who have taken wave after wave of rock-solid action in defence of rail safety. They are a credit to the entire trade union movement.”

However one union official told CommonSpace that many issues including safety, disability access, efficiency and service shortcomings and the widespread practice of DOO had been highlighted by the dispute and that the union would continue to campaign on these issues.

A Scortrail spokesperson said: “The news today comes after many days of hard work. It’s good news and we are pleased.”

“There’s still more hard work to do to reach an agreement but we are in the right space, and that is very important for Scotland’s railway.”

Picture courtesy of Marienna Pope-Weidemann

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