Posted 9th December 2020 | 3 Comments

RMT blames ScotRail for strike vote defeat

A STRIKE ballot held by the RMT on ScotRail has failed to attract enough votes in favour, and the union is blaming ‘ScotRail tactics’ and ‘prohibitive anti-union laws’ for the result. 

The ballot produced 756 votes in favour of strikes and 631 against. This meant that 31 per cent of those entitled to take part had supported strikes, but the law says at least 40 per cent must approve for a strike to be legal.

A second option of ‘industrial action short of a strike’, such as a ban on overtime, produced 955 votes in favour and 631 against, but this also failed to reach the legal minimum.

The ballot had been called to support a pay claim. The dispute had been fuelled by a drivers’ pay rise which the RMT had described as ‘inflation busting’.

The RMT claimed the result had been influenced by a ScotRail ‘campaign of misinformation and intimidation designed to influence the outcome’.

The union’s general secretary Mick Cash added: ‘While this is a positive result with a clear majority favouring the union's position of taking strike action and action short of a strike, the prohibitive anti-union laws requiring 40 per cent of those entitled to vote to vote Yes has not been reached.’

ScotRail said it had advised against any strikes because as a result of the current Emergency Measures Agreements it cannot take part in pay talks without the formal permission of the Scottish Government. 

In addition, ‘At a time when no permanent jobs have been lost, no changes to basic salary levels have been made, and not a single member of ScotRail staff has been placed on furlough, ScotRail’s credibility with passengers and the taxpayer would be damaged by any strike action during a national crisis.’

Chief operating officer Alex White commented: ‘I am glad ScotRail staff decided not to support strike action. While this is an issue that has led to a lot of discussion across our organisation, I welcome the decision that has been reached as I feel that it is right for the railway and our passengers.

‘Strike action at a time of national crisis, and when we benefit from a level of job security not enjoyed by other industries, would have been wrong.

‘It is recognised that our staff have worked hard during the pandemic to deliver a safe and reliable service for key workers. It’s vital that we all now work together to attract more people back to the railway when Covid-19 restrictions allow.’

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Steven Foster, Morecambe

    It comes as no surprise that the union hierarchy expresses such an opinion.Hopefully, post Covid, the railways are going to have an important role once again.This will inevitably involve changing the way in which the industry operates.Are the RMT going to be so callously stupid as to oppose any possible change in their members working practices which will result in strikes and repercussions for the rail public at this crucial time ( as they did over the proposed changes to Onboard Supervisors).
    Depressingly, probably yes.
    It is time the members of this union act like decent human beings.Lets just hope that’s possible.

  • Andrew Gwilt, Benfleet Essex

    Let ScotRail decide whether to have a strike or not.

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    This really shows how out of touch with reality the RMT is. At a time when thousands have lost their jobs, and lives, their ingratitude at having full employment for their members is simply staggering.