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

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.

The Scottish Government and ScotRail had imposed a deadline of 5pm 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Within days of Cop26 kicking off, the union confirmed the planned industrial action will be “withdrawn immediately” as members welcomed a negotiated pay rise.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between your union and the company would be resolved and that all current and planned industrial action would be withdrawn immediately.”

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.

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.”

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.”

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.”

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Author: Shirley

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