Rail Union Makes Final Offer to ScotRail as Strike Looms During COP26
18:45 GMT 27.10.2021 (Updated: 05:38 GMT 04.11.2021)
Leaders and activists attending the UN global warming summit in Glasgow may be forced to fly or drive there if no deal can be reached to stop the two-week strike at the regional train operating company from going ahead.
Rail union RMT has laid out a final offer to the Scottish government ahead of a looming two-week strike on the regional network during the COP26 climate summit.
Regional train operating company ScotRail — set to be taken over by the devolved Scottish government next March — gave the RMT a deadline of 5pm on Wednesday to accept its offer of a 4.7 per cent pay rise over two years, plus a £300 bonus to each member of staff for working during the UN gathering in Glasgow
But just minutes before the deadline expired, the union's General Secretary Mick Lynch responded with a counter-offer, demanding a 2.5 percent rise backdated to April this year, plus the bonus, in return for calling off the strike and returning to talks at a later date.
The post-COVID-19 lockdown rebound has already seen inflation jump from 0.7 percent in January to 2.9 percent in September.
The union leader
had earlier urged the Scottish National Party
(SNP) regional administration to come to terms or face disruption during the international global warming jamboree.
"Time is running out to get a fair deal for Scotland's rail workers and avoid a shutdown during COP26", Lynch said. "We stand ready to get back round the table right now but the political leadership in Scotland need to lift their arbitrary deadlines and clear the road blocks to getting those talks back on".
"The ball is in the SNP's court", he added. "They need to take responsibility for bringing us to this point and get into a dialogue with the union that puts pay justice on the agenda. We are waiting".
ScotRail operations director David Simpson told the BBC he did not understand why RMT Scotland organiser Mick Hogg had rejected the deal without balloting members on it.
"I think everybody wants to make sure COP is successful and rail to play its part in that but we can't just throw money at that without consequences", Simpson told BBC Scotland. "There is a very strong offer on the table".
25 October 2021, 13:52 GMT
On Tuesday, SNP transport minister Graeme Dey accused the RMT of moving the goalposts.
But Hogg responded: "The goalposts were never there to be moved in the first place — we have been stonewalled for the last 18 months".
RMT members at ScotRail have already voted to walk out if their demands were not met, with the action scheduled from 1 to 15 November. The COP26 summit is set to run for 13 days from Halloween, 31 October.
Those unlucky numbers have already jinxed the gathering of world leaders and green activists
, with a series of road closures around the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) set to cause more transport chaos.
Hotels in and around the industrial port city on the river Clyde — Scotland's biggest by far — are booked to capacity.
Even the typically wet autumn weather in western Scotland threatened to make things worse, Dey warned in a tweet.
Fellow transport unions ASLEF, TSSA and Unite, the latter of which formerly only organised in the road sector, have already accepted ScotRail's offer.