24 June 2022

Further strike disruption hits Scotland’s railway

24 June 2022

Rail passengers in Scotland have been warned of significant disruption on Friday following two days of strike action earlier this week.

Train operator ScotRail said passengers should check their journeys in advance.

It said signalling boxes on the tracks will open at different times throughout Friday following the latest industrial action on Thursday, while there has also been a knock-on effect from overnight controllers being on strike.

Meanwhile, the East Coast Main Line between Edinburgh and North Berwick was closed for a time after a lorry collided with a wall and crashed on to the tracks at Wallyford, East Lothian but later reopened.

The RMT union has taken industrial action over a multi-year pay freeze and a lack of guarantee that there would be no compulsory redundancies across the network.

Scottish organiser Gordon Martin told the PA news agency that members are “resolute”, and he welcomed the “overwhelming” public support. A further strike is planned for Saturday.

He said: “People understand what we’re doing and people are beginning to understand it’s not just about pay. It’s far from just about pay.

“In their workplaces they are finding how tough things are.

“The real crux of the matter is: it’s an attack on jobs, it’s an attack on terms and conditions.

“The real concern I’ve got is this imports serious danger into the railway for the train crew and for the travelling public.

“Because it stands to reason if you slaughter and slash and burn the workforce, at the same time as you cut the maintenance regime in half, the recipe for trains going down embankments and killing people is very real.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has said more strikes can be expected if a settlement is not reached with Network Rail and the UK’s rail operators.

He said: “In a modern economy, workers need to be properly rewarded for their work, enjoy good conditions and have the peace of mind that their job will not be taken away from them.

“What we cannot accept is thousands of railway workers being thrown on the scrapheap after being praised as heroes during Covid.

“RMT will continue its industrial campaign until a negotiated settlement is reached.”

Talks have been held throughout the week and will continue in the coming days, but there is little sign of a breakthrough.

RMT members downing tools again on Saturday is set to disrupt events such as Edinburgh’s Pride march.

March organiser Jamie Love told the PA news agency the strike is “disappointing”.

He added: “As Pride organisers, our whole job relies on making Pride accessible to those that really want to and maybe don’t have spaces like Pride anywhere near them.

“That’s the saddest and hardest part because obviously those are the people who are going to be impacted the most.

“That will be really quite sad and I know that people will be really upset by that.”

Disruption is expected to last into Sunday, with music fans attending the Liam Gallagher gig at Glasgow’s Hampden Park that evening being warned the last train from nearby Mount Florida station back into the city centre is set to leave before the end of the event.

Phil Campbell, ScotRail head of customer operations, said: “We’ll be doing what we can to help Liam Gallagher fans travel to Hampden Park on Sunday, but customers should plan ahead as services will be impacted by Saturday’s Network Rail RMT strike action, engineering work near Haymarket and Barrhead, and by the temporary timetable we currently have in place.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We’re serious about trying to find a solution and work out a compromise that gives our people a decent pay rise, but it has to be affordable for taxpayers and fare-payers.

“Our offers have so far been rejected, with union demands far from being affordable. We remain available for talks – day or night – and will do everything we can to avoid further disruption for our passengers.

“We understand the disruption the strike is causing communities across the country and we are asking passengers to please check before you travel, be conscious of when your last available train is departing, and only travel by train if necessary.”

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