Railway Dispute

– in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd June 2022.

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Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

British railways are in chaos and, referring to the Westminster Tory Government’s intransigence, an RMT representative has said:

“Perhaps the UK Government should take a feather out of the Scottish Government’s hat and propose 5 per cent, along with a five-year no-compulsory-redundancy agreement”.

Does the First Minister recall that, some weeks ago at First Minister’s question time, I warned of the United Kingdom Government’s deeply damaging approach to industrial relations? Now we learn that it proposes to legislate to allow the use of agency workers during legally balloted strike action. Does the First Minister share my view that that is dangerous Tory ideology that is designed to inflame rather than resolve this extremely damaging dispute?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I recall very well Fiona Hyslop’s warning about the danger of the dispute escalating if it was not resolved; of course, people across the UK are paying the price for that now. They are paying the price for Tory anti-trade union rhetoric—in fact, Tory anti-trade unionism, which I completely deprecate. We should respect workers across our economy; we should respect public sector workers; and we should seek to negotiate fair resolutions to disputes, particularly at a time of soaring inflation—inflation being so exacerbated in the UK by the folly of Brexit.

The rail strike that is crippling the UK right now is not the result of a dispute with ScotRail; it is a dispute with Network Rail and English train operating companies. Therefore, it is entirely a reserved matter.

Another thing that I remember from a few weeks’ ago in the chamber, when there was the potential for a ScotRail dispute, is Tory MSPs getting up and demanding intervention by this Government to resolve it.

I repeat the call for the UK Government to start doing its job: it must get around the table to bring a resolution to the dispute, and it must drop its anti-trade unionism and show some respect for workers across the economy.