ScotRail could face significant service disruptions as, for the first time in 20 years, train drivers in Scotland could take strike action. This follows the rail union ASLEF being unable to meet an agreement regarding a pay increase.
The demand for a pay increase comes amid the rising cost of living, with the rejected offer reported to be around 2.2% - which the union described as “derisory”.
ASLEF responded to the dispute, saying: “Scotland's train drivers did not make the decision to consider industrial action lightly - indeed we have not had a single pay dispute with Scotland's railway operators for 21 years. Yet, just one month into the Scottish Government's stewardship of ScotRail, we are being left with no option but to consider action in response.”
Rail drivers, especially freight, have been a massive aid to this country during the pandemic, acting as key workers whilst the country shut down. It is vital that these workers be treated fairly in this pay dispute, as expressed by ASLEF:
"ScotRail and the Scottish Government must recognise that these key workers deserve a decent pay rise, they should return to the negotiating table with a much fairer deal that recognises the vital work our members do."
The news of potential strike disruption comes as the Scottish Government recently decided to renationalise Scottish rail.
The return to public ownership has been an ongoing debate in the rail industry for years now, as customers have been saddled with rising fares, with little to no boost in the quality of service.
In recent weeks Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, has been calling for nationalisation of the North’s rail network, after his successful bid to take back control of the busses. Burnhams ambition has been met with resounding support from the public, as attitudes to the rail industry have soured, especially in the north of the UK. .
Neil Bibby MSP, Scottish Labour transport spokesman, said: "If public ownership is going to mean more than a coat of paint and a photo-op. The SNP need to treat workers with respect and give them a fair pay deal."
Driver strikes represent an issue not just for the governments public image, they also mean increased disruptions for those who need to use the train services for their daily routines. Ensuring that train drivers are compensated fairly should be the top priority for the SNP during a time in which their every action is being monitored by those looking to justify arguments for or against rail nationalisation.