Train drivers’ union urges Nicola Sturgeon to intervene in ScotRail pay dispute

Kevin Lindsay, Scotland organiser for Aslef, hit out at the ‘shambolic’ pay negotiations for train drivers which have led to services being cut.

23 May 2022

The main train drivers’ union has urged the First Minister to intervene after a temporary timetable resulted in “damaging cuts” to rail services across Scotland.

ScotRail, which was nationalised in April, began a reduced timetable on Monday, with more than 700 services cut across the country.

The union Aslef has been in deadlock with ScotRail as drivers refuse to work overtime and on rest days in a row over pay.

Drivers rejected an offer of a 2.2% increase, with the option for a revenue share agreement which would take the total package to 5%.

The temporary timetable has caused disruption to passengers across Scotland, with the service ending earlier in the evening.

Now Aslef bosses have asked Nicola Sturgeon to help resolve the “shambolic” pay negotiations.

Kevin Lindsay, the union’s Scotland organiser, told Ms Sturgeon that despite being “delighted” with the nationalisation of ScotRail, the early steps have been “hugely detrimental” to the organisation’s vision of rail services.

He wrote: “Pay negotiations have been shambolic, the timetable has been slashed by one third, the economy is suffering and passengers and communities are left isolated.

“All of this is happening at a time when we should be encouraging people to leave their cars at home and meet our climate targets.

“First Minister, the way hard-working, committed and skilled rail staff are being treated is appalling. The pay award being offered is just not credible.”

At a time when inflation is nearing 10%, Mr Lindsay said the 2.2% offer is a “real terms pay cut”.

He added: “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.”

And he hit out at comments from Employment Minister Richard Lochhead who said workers had to be “sensible” in seeking a pay rise.

The urges from Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth, he said, which called for unions to engage with ScotRail were “factually incorrect”.

“We have repeatedly said we are prepared to talk anytime, any place, anywhere, yet this offer continues to be ignored by ScotRail management,” he said.

“The language and behaviour of Scottish Ministers have too often been inflammatory, unreasonable and factually incorrect.

“There is also a complete lack of transparency around the backroom, negative role being played by ministers and officials in your Government.”

He added: “We urgently need to see progress and de-escalation of this situation. The Scottish public demand it.”

This morning, Ms Gilruth told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that both sides needed to “compromise” on the dispute.

ScotRail service delivery director David Simpson said on the programme that the union’s demands were “unsustainable”.

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