Rail strikes called off during Cop26 after deal settled, union confirms


ScotRail train

Rail strikes during the Cop26 climate conference have been called off after the RMT confirmed negotiations on a pay rise have been settled.

The announcement was made following talks between the trade union and transport bosses on Wednesday.

Transport during the 13-day United Nations climate summit, which is drawing world leaders and thousands of delegates to Glasgow, was set to be heavily disrupted by rail strikes amid a dispute on pay and conditions.

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The Scottish Government and ScotRail had imposed a deadline of 5 pm on Wednesday for a resolution.

Within days of Cop26 kicking off, the union confirmed the planned industrial action will be “withdrawn immediately” as members welcomed a negotiated pay rise.

In a letter released to union members following the agreement, RMT general secretary Michael Lynch said: “By accepting the offer, ScotRail stated that it would mean all current disputes between your union and the company would be resolved and that all current and planned industrial action would be withdrawn immediately.”

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The new terms accept the union’s call for a 2.5% pay rise backdated to April and a “Cop26 payment” for all staff of £300.

A three-hour book on allowance applied to each rest day worked, applicable for 12 months from the date of the agreement, is also included.

Mr Lynch’s said the union’s offer was accepted “unanimously” by delegates.

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His letter added: “It was noted that it was only through the tremendous determination of you and your colleagues throughout this dispute, through the efforts of your representatives, activists and negotiators that this result was achieved.

“The AGM congratulates you and I congratulate you on achieving this magnificent industrial victory and gaining a one-year pay deal and rest day working agreement without any preconditions and which banishes the previously stated productivity strings attached.

“By accepting the offer all industrial action is now cancelled and I instruct you all to work normally on the days you had previously been instructed to take action on.”

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In response to the announcement, ScotRail’s chief operating officer Ian McConnell said: “We have reached a pay agreement with the RMT trade union that resolves strike action.

“We look forward to Scotland’s Railway playing its part in delivering a successful Cop26 next week.”

Earlier this week, Scotland’s Transport Minister Graeme Dey warned he was “not optimistic” that a resolution would be reached with the RMT before the 5 pm deadline.

He was facing calls to quit if a deal could not be reached to prevent the strike during Cop26.

In response to the recent announcement, Mr Dey said: “Following recent discussions we are pleased that all four trade unions have now agreed to accept this very good pay offer on behalf of their members.

“We are proud to have brokered and funded a deal which gives Scotland’s rail workers a decent pay rise and improved terms and conditions, in contrast to conditions for rail workers under the UK Government.

“We are also pleased that the RMT reached out to restart discussions based on the offer that had been made to them on Sunday. Now an agreement has been confirmed the strike action will thankfully now come to an end.

“As well as getting the pay rise they deserve, railway workers can now go back to delivering rail services for people right across Scotland and as well as for those attending Cop26.”

Opposition parties took aim at the SNP for the delay in accepting the union’s call for a pay rise but welcomed the announcement.

Scottish Labour’s transport spokesperson Neil Bibby said: “This eleventh-hour deal may help the SNP save face but it won’t fix the mess they’ve made of our railways.

“However welcome the pay deal is, it doesn’t undo the contempt the SNP have shown rail workers over the last two years.

“It is disgraceful that it took the risk of embarrassment at Cop26 to convince the SNP to give rail workers the fair pay they deserve. Scotland’s railways are not just for Cop26.

“The SNP must now commit to building a railway that is truly fit for purpose and stopping the reckless cuts to services.”

Scottish Conservative shadow transport minister Graham Simpson MSP said: “It’s welcome that rail chaos has been avoided at the eleventh hour.

“We had repeatedly called for the SNP Government to intervene sooner, but this deal is better late than never.

“Now that all parties have reached an agreement it is vital that services and information for people across Glasgow is ramped up in readiness for Cop26 next week.”

Scottish Greens transport spokesperson Mark Ruskell MSP said he was “delighted” an agreement was reached adding, “rail workers are to be commended for their commitment which has ultimately resulted in this improved pay deal.

“I know that this agreement will be welcomed by all of those who regularly rely on Scotland’s railway.”

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