Scotland

ScotRail talks offer amid strike dismissed as 'stunt'

A ScotRail train is pictured in a station as commuters disembark Image copyright PA
Image caption ScotRail say the strike is "totally unnecessary".

An offer by ScotRail to hold fresh talks with union leaders as a series of one-day strikes continues has been dismissed as a "stunt".

The train operator said its proposal was not directly related to the current industrial action - but it wanted to restart discussions on Monday.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the latest "stunt" was "classic divide and rule".

The dispute centres on proposals to operate more trains without guards.

The union said it was consulting mediator Acas but two further strikes planned for the weekend would continue.

ScotRail's managing director Phil Verster told BBC Radio Scotland: "The RMT must now put aside their strike days, and put aside their pre-conditions, as late this afternoon I've put forward a proposal to the RMT that allows us to look for a solution for all of those conductors that will never be affected by how electric trains operate or by the current dispute.

"We can find a way forward that's great for our customers but also that's good for our people."

Mr Cash said: "After months of playing games this latest stunt from ScotRail now attempts to split the staff involved in this dispute into separate groups.

"That is classic 'divide and rule' and makes a mockery of any serious attempt to get the talks process back under way.

"RMT is available for talks Monday morning at the independent conciliation service Acas, just as we have been ever since ScotRail sabotaged the last attempt to get Acas involved."

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Media captionTrain passengers facing further disruption

Commuters have faced another day of disruption as ScotRail workers staged their second 24-hour strike of the week.

Traffic Scotland warned the M8, M9, M90 and Forth Road Bridge were busier than normal due to the strike action.

ScotRail said its reduced timetable was "running well" but thousands of passengers were affected with about a third of services unable to run.

Trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and Glasgow and Carlisle are among 15 routes cancelled by the walkout.

Other key routes, including Glasgow to Aberdeen and Edinburgh to the Fife Circle are running at a reduced frequency.

The first walkout was held on Tuesday in a dispute about driver-only-operation or DOO trains.

This is where the driver is asked to close the doors at stations, instead of the on-board conductor. Drivers have CCTV in the cabs to check people are clear of the doors, but the unions have said this is not safe and passengers will get hurt.

'Revenue protection'

The RMT announced the dates of a series of six planned walkouts last week after saying a majority of its members had voted for strike action in a ballot with a 75% turnout.

The union accused ScotRail of having "no intention of engaging in serious talks" after discussions broke down at 11:00 on Monday.

Image caption The dispute centres on the introduction of additional driver-only operations

Their regional organiser for Scotland, Gordon Martin, said the strike was "clearly about safety".

He said: "ScotRail are looking to undermine the safety-critical role of the driver [and] introduce ticket examiners who are for revenue protection only.

"They don't always run with ticket examiners on the train, whereas a train with a guard - the guard must be present.

"You've got revenue protection, the guard opening and closing the doors, the safety of the passengers getting on and off the train and being there if people are distressed in any way. On a ticket examiner-only train, you don't have that facility."

'Totally unnecessary'

However, ScotRail said the strike was "totally unnecessary".

In a statement posted on their website, the company said: "The RMT say we are planning on having driver-only trains. We are not.

"We will always schedule a second person on trains to serve our customers.

"They say it is about safety. It is not. Today, 59% of our customers travel on a train where the doors are safely opened and closed by the driver.

"We have guaranteed that all of our conductors will keep their job, pay and conditions.

"With all this in mind - we just don't know why we are having a strike at all."

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