Nicola Sturgeon has been asked to bring an end to ScotRail pay disputes and strikes which threaten to cripple the railway during the COP26 summit.
RMT union general secretary Mick Lynch has written to the first minister, saying the Scottish Government has the power to end the dispute and give striking workers a fair settlement.
ScotRail has endured months of strike action, with Sunday services crippled amid an ongoing pay dispute between the firm and its staff.
Members of the TSSA, who represent managers in the conductor and revenue teams, have accepted a pay deal from ScotRail, ending the strike threat amongst those grades.
But the RMT has said its members are “standing firm”, with the threat of strike action to coincide with the start of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.
The union says they want the Scottish Government to intervene in the dispute to drive companies to the negotiating table and bring about a “fair resolution”.
RMT insists open to ‘meaningful’ talks
“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,” Mr Lynch’s letter to Ms Sturgeon states.
He claimed it was “disgraceful” the Scottish Government has failed to intervene.
“RMT has made clear from the outset that it is open to meaningful talks,” he added.
“Therefore, it is disappointing that with the clock ticking and just days to go until COP26 ScotRail and the Sleeper have dragged their heels over further talks, preferring instead to issue inflammatory and misleading communications to its workforce.”
Mr Lynch said it was a “matter or urgency” that the government should intervene.
He added: “As I said in the letter to the first minister, the Scottish Government needs to stop stonewalling ScotRail and the Sleeper workers and give these green railway workers the justice, respect and reward they deserve.”
Transport chiefs say ongoing dispute is ‘disappointing’
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 Transport Scotland spokeswoman 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.
“In the interest of collective bargaining, we understand that ScotRail would need to reengage 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.
“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 greener, cleaner railway.”