ScotRail and RMT's overtime dispute deepens after ticket examiners join conductors in voting for action
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FURTHER strike action on ScotRail services seems likely after RMT members voted overwhelmingly for industrial action.
Ticket examiners who are members of the union were balloted in a dispute with rail chiefs about overtime payments.
Members voted 238-44 in favour of a strike, and 254-28 in favour of industrial action short of a strike – such as a ban on working overtime.
It is not clear which course of action the RMT will pursue, but its conductor members have already carried out two one-day strikes on Sundays and are set to do four more in the coming four weeks.
ScotRail said it will await further information from the RMT about the outcome of the ballot and the impact this will have on train services. The train operator said it will seek to minimise any impact on key workers reliant on rail services where possible, but warned some services may have to be cancelled.
ScotRail also claimed that the result will have no impact on its position on overtime pay increases, given the "severe financial challenges" it faces amid the Covid pandemic and its associated plunge in passenger numbers.
Phil Campbell, ScotRail Head of Customer Operations, said: “I’m disappointed the RMT’s ticket examiner members have voted for strike action when we are in the midst of the pandemic.
“When we are on the cusp of safely welcoming customers back onto Scotland’s Railway as lockdown restrictions ease, strike action over increased overtime payments is completely wrong for staff and customers.
“We will do everything we can to minimise the impact on customers, particularly those key workers who are reliant on our services, but services may have to be cancelled.
“ScotRail is currently facing the most significant crisis in its history. At a time when we need everyone to work together to rebuild and create a more sustainable railway for the future, the actions of the RMT bosses are reckless.”
The RMT has previously hit out at ScotRail's repeated referral to the impact of strikes on 'key workers', arguing that its own members were also 'key workers' owing to their roles on a vital transport service.
Announcing the news that ticket examiners had now joined conductors in voting for strike action, RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash, said: "Our ticket examiners have now joined our conductor members in this fight for equality with other ScotRail grades over enhanced payments and it’s now time for Abellio to get out of their bunker and do the right thing by their staff.
“The political leadership in Scotland can no longer sit on the fence and ignore these disputes in their back yard. It's time for serious talks, a serious approach to workplace fairness and justice and a serious solution to be reached."