Nicola Sturgeon and STUC demand UK Government action on rail strikes

Nicola Sturgeon and STUC demand UK Government action on rail strikes

Updated: 1 month, 17 days, 4 hours, 50 minutes, 35 seconds ago

THE Tories must act to stop the disruption to Scotland’s railways due to strike action against UK Government-controlled train companies, the First Minister and the Scottish Trades Union Congress have said in a rare joint statement.

Nicola Sturgeon said that the UK Government’s refusal to engage with rail workers was having a “major impact” on Scottish services.

And the STUC’s general secretary, Roz Foyer, called on the Westminster government to follow the lead set by its Scottish counterpart in reaching a deal with the trade unions.

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The dramatic joint intervention comes with thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) employed by the UK Government-owned Network Rail set to walk out from 6pm on Christmas Eve until 6am on December 27 in a dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

Services are due to follow the normal timetable between December 28 and 30, but on Hogmanay services will stop earlier than usual.

And more rail misery is to follow in 2023. The RMT has also announced strike plans for January 3 and 4, as well as January 6 and 7.

Those strike dates were announced after talks between RMT leader Mick Lynch (below) and Conservative Rail Minister Hew Merriman failed last week, with negotiations between the two sides remaining deadlocked.

Sturgeon said that the repercussions of the UK Government’s failure to reach a deal with workers would impact on Scotland.

“The Scottish Government has maintained constructive discussions with the trades unions and settled our own pay negotiations by embracing the concept of fair work,” she said.

“Despite this, passengers in Scotland still face severe disruption as a direct result of the ongoing UK-wide rail dispute between Network Rail, UK Government rail operators, and the trade unions – and Network Rail employees in Scotland face entering the New Year still with no pay rise.

“The repercussions of this dispute, and the UK Government’s refusal to engage constructively with the trade unions, are continuing to have a major impact not only for the rail workers but for passengers, freight, businesses and the wider public in Scotland over the festive period and into 2023.

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“The Secretary of State for Transport must intervene immediately and work with the trades unions to secure a railway that benefits users, staff and the wider public.”

Foyer, who at the head of the STUC represents some 540,000 workers, said the disruption in Scotland was due to the “combative approach to negotiations taken by the UK Government”.

She said: “We all want to see an end to the rail dispute, and for workers to be awarded a fair pay offer that is not conditional on cuts to staffing and services.

In Scotland workers have already agreed their pay claim, but we are still seeing widespread disruption on our railways. This is due to the combative approach to negotiations taken by the UK Government which has led to the protracted dispute between Network Rail and the UK Government.

“The rail unions and Scottish Government have come to a negotiated settlement and we need the UK Government to take a similar approach that results in workers at Network Rail and other UK-Government-controlled rail companies getting the deal they deserve.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said on Tuesday evening: “The dispute is not going to be solved through strike action, only through negotiation.

“TSSA and Unite members have both voted to resoundingly accept the very same deal that the RMT continue to reject.

“Our offer, which is worth over 9% over two years, with a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies and no changes to anyone’s terms and conditions, remains on the table.”