ScotRail (Industrial Action)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 9th September 2021.

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Photo of Maggie Chapman Maggie Chapman Green

3. To ask the First Minister what discussions the Scottish Government has had with ScotRail and the trade unions regarding industrial action on the network. (S6F-00220)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

The Minister for Transport meets ScotRail and trade unions regularly. He met trade union representatives on 24 June, and subsequently met Abellio. I met the Scottish Trade Union Congress on 12 August. On each occasion, we expressed our disappointment about the current dispute affecting ScotRail’s Sunday services and urged all parties to seek resolution.

I understand that the transport minister is meeting Unite the union today and has offered with to meet the other rail unions. We want all parties to get around the table and identify solutions to the challenges that our rail services face.

Photo of Maggie Chapman Maggie Chapman Green

I note the comments made on Tuesday by the transport minister, in which he called on everyone to act responsibly.

It has been six months since people were able to get a train on a Sunday. It seems that Abellio has little interest in acting responsibly, given that the ScotRail franchise is soon to be transferred to public ownership. It is clear that we need a long-term partnership between the workers, passengers and the Government to avoid the problems that have arisen with Abellio.

Will the First Minister tell me how her Government will bring the situation to an end in the short term? Can she also give us an assurance that when ScotRail is brought into public ownership, the governance structure will include representatives of workers and passengers, as well as appointees, on the board?

The First Minister:

I can give an assurance on fair work; in my view, part of fair work is having good industrial relations as well as engagement and discussion with trade unions. I expect that to be at the heart of ScotRail services as they come into public ownership.

I know that members are aware of the reasons behind the current dispute, which arose from an agreement made during Covid for enhanced rest-day working. Now that additional ticket examiners and conductors have been recruited, the issue of excessive rest-day working has been resolved. The unions and workers—I understand why this is the case—want to keep the temporary allowance and make it permanent, whereas ScotRail’s view is that that is not sustainable. Again, I call on both parties to get around the table to find an agreement. It is in no one’s interest—not least the workers’ interest—for the dispute to continue any longer. We will continue to encourage the parties to do that. We will also continue to do the work to bring ScotRail into full public ownership, which we expect to conclude in the early part of next year.