ScotRail workers are demanding pay justice and equality amid strike action against Abellio after it emerged the Dutch state-owned operator has failed to treat all grades of workers equally.
A formal petition has been lodged by the RMT Union after discovering the discrepancies in rest day working arrangements.
Workers feel the current arrangement is unfair after Abellio extended enhanced payment arrangements for drivers, but not for other grades of workers.
The failure to include other workers in the extension has already led to conductor and ticket examiners opting to take industrial action.
RMT has said it is “unequivocal” that all grades of ScotRail staff are treated as essential workers who, they feel, deserve pay equality.
The union has called on the Scottish Government to commit to opening “meaningful talks” with the union and Abellio to address what they describe as “blatant inequality”.
— RMT (@RMTunion) May 11, 2021
‘Kick in the teeth’ for workers
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “All grades of ScotRail workers are essential workers who have worked tirelessly throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to keep Scotland’s rail services running.
“All RMT ScotRail conductor and ticket examiner members are seeking is parity between grades.
“It is a kick in the teeth for these workers, that despite their commitment throughout the pandemic, Abellio is refusing to treat all grades equally and is instead preoccupied with issuing provocative statements criticising its own workforce.
“It is high time that the Scottish Government stepped in and committed itself and Abellio to meaningful talks, and this is what RMT’s petition is calling for.
“These essential workers deserve pay justice and equality.”
The extension for drivers is in place until October.
‘Reckless’ action is ‘wrong, divisive and should be called off’
A ScotRail spokesman said: “The RMT’s strike action, in a bid to force a 50 per cent increase in overtime payments for no additional hours worked, is wrong, divisive, and should be called off.
“Passenger numbers and revenue dropped by more than 90 per cent during the pandemic, but thanks to emergency government support ScotRail hasn’t cut any jobs, pay, or benefits, and hasn’t had to use furlough.
“That’s not something that we take for granted, particularly when many other transport operators have made difficult decisions about jobs and pay.
“Now that lockdown restrictions are gradually lifting, we all need to work together to attract more people back to the railway, which is the only thing that will provide long-term job security.
“The reckless actions of RMT bosses puts that at risk.”
Transport Scotland has encouraged all parties to get around the table to begin discussions.
A spokeswoman said: “While we fully appreciate the efforts of rail workers in keeping services moving for key workers, the Scottish Government has already supported our franchises with circa £1bn through the Emergency Measures Agreements.
“This has ensured every employee has benefited from full pay throughout the pandemic at a time when services and revenue have fallen by up to circa 95% .
“In terms of negotiating any change of terms and conditions, collective bargaining rests with the operator and unions concerned.
“However, there is quite simply no additional funding available at this time and any pay increase, including payments for rest day working, would need to be funded by efficiencies agreed through meaningful discussions.
“Given the pressures on public sector finances as a whole, coupled with projections that passenger numbers and revenues won’t return to pre-pandemic levels for quite some time, it is only prudent to identify efficiency savings.
“We encourage all parties to get back round the table to resolve this issue for the benefit of passengers, staff and the economy.”