Rail strikes during Cop26 are to go ahead as planned, members of the RMT union have confirmed.
ScotRail workers will strike during the climate change summit from November 1-12 amid an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions.
Thousands of delegates from across the globe, including world leaders such as US president Joe Biden, will be in Scotland for the historic event.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the decision to go ahead with industrial action was made on Friday after the train company “failed to get serious” in talks with the union.
He said: “There was a golden opportunity for ScotRail to make serious progress in talks today, but instead they offered nothing of any consequence and as a result our action throughout Cop26 goes ahead as planned.
“There is still time to avoid the chaos of a transport shutdown during Cop26 if the key players get back with some serious proposals.”
He said the union remains open to pay rise discussions with ScotRail, but “the ball is firmly in their court”.
Earlier, Mr Lynch said he had written to the First Minister “calling on her to intervene as a matter of urgency to bring about a fair resolution” to the dispute, and accused rail bosses of having “dragged their heels over further talks” with just weeks until the summit.
In his letter to Nicola Sturgeon, he said: “It is completely within the Scottish Government’s powers to resolve these disputes before Cop26 commences – it needs to stop stonewalling these key workers and give them the justice, respect and reward they deserve.”
It comes after Scotland’s railways have seen months of industrial action, with most Sunday services cancelled.
Earlier this week, the TSSA union – which represents managers in the conductor and revenue teams at Scotland’s train operator – said it would no longer take part in industrial action after accepting an improved pay offer.
The union said it has now accepted an offer that amounts to a 2.5% pay increase backdated to April 1, 2021, and a 2.2% increase effective from April 1, 2022, with a one-off £300 payment for staff working during Cop26.
Its members will cease industrial action from 23.59pm on Sunday.
A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government’s transport agency, said it was “disappointing” that the RMT had not put the recent pay offer to its members in a ballot.
She said: “We acknowledge that the RMT has at last contacted ScotRail to reject this offer nearly two weeks after it was made.
“This is a disappointing response from the RMT leadership, particularly as we understand Aslef and TSSA have accepted the pay offer and Unite is recommending it to its members, who they are currently balloting.
“It is therefore disappointing that RMT leadership did not put this very good pay offer to a democratic vote to its members.”
The spokeswoman continued: “In the interest of collective bargaining, we understand that ScotRail would need to re-engage all four unions to determine next steps.
“The RMT leadership has made clear its problem is with rest-day working and that would need to be the focus for any further discussions.”
She added: “We are keen to see this issue resolved ahead of Cop26 so everyone who works in Scotland’s railways can play their part in welcoming the world to our country and showcase our efforts towards building a greener, cleaner railway.”
Meanwhile, a ScotRail spokesman said: “It’s extremely disappointing that the RMT have rejected a very good pay offer, negotiated over several weeks, and opted to continue with this highly damaging strike action, particularly when the other three unions have either accepted the offer or have recommended that their members do so.
“We’re seeing customers gradually return to Scotland’s railway, but the scale of the financial situation ScotRail is facing is stark.
“To build a more sustainable and greener railway for the future and reduce the burden on the taxpayer, we need to change. All of us in the railway: management, staff, trade unions, suppliers, and Government, need to work together to modernise the railway so that it is fit for the future.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We were disappointed that the RMT rejected the offer.
“Having taken nearly two weeks to tell ScotRail they were rejecting the offer, ScotRail sought to return immediately to the table to focus on the area the RMT said publicly was their one remaining concern – rest day working.
“An offer in this regard was made, the RMT undertook to consider it.
“We fully expected their representatives to return with a counter offer – that after all is the nature of negotiations – yet the RMT leadership rejected that offer out of hand and returned to the issue of pay.”
The spokesperson added: “We note the latest public statement by the RMT leadership; Scotrail remains ready to return to the negotiating table at any point this weekend to consider again the issue of allowances for rest day working.
“This matter can be resolved, allowing everyone who works for Scotland’s Railway to get on with preparing to welcome the world to Glasgow.
“We believe that’s what most of our railway employees want.
“We know a credible, good pay offer has been made that we think most ScotRail employees would want to accept.
“We hope that the RMT leadership will recognise this too. But at this point, we are utterly perplexed by the leadership’s inability to see that it is their members who stand to lose out, and that by its actions and unwillingness to seek meaningfully to resolve this matter, they are letting their members down.
“We don’t think anyone, including the membership of the RMT, wants to disrupt COP26 or the chance to showcase Scotland’s green, clean railway to a global audience. We hope that encompasses the RMT leadership too, although their approach to seeking resolution of matters does appear to call this into question.”
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