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Fresh calls for ScotRail strike action over working conditions, union warns

Rail and transport union TSSA is to ballot members at ScotRail over the possibility of industrial action in an escalation of a dispute about on call working arrangements (Jane Barlow/PA)
Rail and transport union TSSA is to ballot members at ScotRail over the possibility of industrial action in an escalation of a dispute about on call working arrangements (Jane Barlow/PA)

Rail staff in Scotland could take more industrial action over working conditions, a transport union has said.

The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) is to ballot members at ScotRail over a potential strike amid an ongoing dispute about on-call shifts.

TSSA said talks about the nature of on-call duties were supposed to be discussed via a joint working group as part of the 2021/22 pay award settlement with the nationalist train operator.

However, more than a year on from the agreement, the union said despite repeated requests, no meetings have taken place.

TSSA members said ScotRail has “dragged its heels”, leading the union to believe the operator is “acting in bad faith”.

If the strike action is voted to go ahead, it would see the withdrawal of union members’ on-call duties.

This could lead to disruption on Scotland’s railways during the festive period.

TSSA members working for ScotRail include conductor team managers, driver team managers, on train team managers and station team managers working at stations across Scotland including Aberdeen, Ayr, Dundee, Dumfries, Edinburgh Waverly, Glasgow Central and Queen Street, Inverness, Kirkcaldy, Motherwell, Perth and Stirling.

Commenting, TSSA organiser Gary Kelly said: “We are now balloting members because ScotRail has failed to engage with us over our numerous concerns regarding the terms and conditions of on call duties.

“The company gave assurances as part of our pay deal a year ago that we would move forward with collective discussions. Clearly, they have no wish to do so, and we have now concluded they are acting in bad faith.

“Our members are vital to the running of the Scotland’s railways and deserve to be treated with respect by their employers over their legitimate grievances.

“Should our members decide, via the ballot, to withdraw their on-call duties this would lead to a scramble to cover gaps in out of hours on call rosters during the Christmas period.

“It would also leave ScotRail facing difficulties in the event of any incident or severe weather which could impact the safe running of the railways.

“Our union is always happy to discuss ways to find a reasonable solution, rather than taking industrial action, so the ball is now very much in ScotRail’s court.”

TSSA expects the opening day of the ballot to be November 21 and for it to run for three weeks.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “We are aware of this matter and have sought an immediate update from ScotRail as to why this issue has not been resolved before now.

“Ministers fully expect all parties to engage constructively to bring this matter to a close as soon as possible.”