17 June 2016
To: RMT SCOTRAIL CONDUCTOR MEMBERS
Our Ref: BR2/0146
17 June 2016
DOO/DCO ABELLIO SCOTRAIL
I am writing to give you an update on the current dispute your union is currently in with Scotrail and the planned strike action which is due to commence on Tuesday 21st June 2016.
I have to advise you that I have been extremely disappointed and astounded at Scotrail’s inactions and misrepresentation of events over the last few days. First of all, your union’s negotiators entered talks under the auspices of conciliation service Acas on Wednesday after being given a guarantee the previous day that the company would fit the new rolling stock with door panels that would ensure the Guard’s role with regards to Platform Train Interface and on their operations of the doors. This gave our negotiators a good basis for entering the talks.
Unfortunately, it became apparent at the talks that the guarantee from the previous day had become “an option” of fitting the door panels for Guard control and wouldn’t be considered until later this year. When your negotiators asked, via Acas officials, if that was the company’s final position, the response, again via Acas, was a firm Yes! This gave any talks no room for manoeuvre or compromise and therefore the talks were adjourned to give both parties time for reflection. This was not a walkout by your negotiators – as Scotrail management are trying to suggest – and nor was it the end to your union’s commitment to finding a resolution to this dispute. In fact, it was made very clear to Acas that your negotiators would clear their diaries and attend any further talks to find a way to avert the strike action scheduled to commence on Tuesday 21st June.
I wrote to Scotrail Managing Director Phil Verster yesterday refuting many of the comments he has been making – and which he put in writing to me – with regards to the events surrounding the Acas talks. In that letter, I made it very clear that your union would attend any talks at any time in an attempt to avoid any hardships for you and your colleagues as well as avoiding inconvenience to the travelling public. I was astonished that, far from the company welcoming the offer of emergency talks, they have shown their lack of commitment to resolve this dispute by saying they wouldn’t be available until 10am on Monday, literally hours prior to the industrial action starting. We can only assume that the suggestion that the talks take place then is not a genuine offer to avert strike action at all.
It is extraordinary that Scotrail is dragging its heels over talks considering the serious nature of this dispute and the impact that it will have on rail services all over Scotland. I have therefore written to Mr Verster again this morning imploring him to get his management to attend talks over the weekend if necessary as it makes no sense for them to continue to blank your union.
While your union is available for talks with management at any time, the message we will give to the company is the message that is consistently given by you and your colleagues since this dispute began and that is that we will not accept any extension of DOO or DCO as our members should not have to face the risk of their role and responsibilities being reduced or undermined.
You and your colleagues are well aware that there is a very real threat to passengers over the proposals to water down or wipe out the safety critical role of the guard on Scotrail services – it is a lethal gamble with basic rail safety.
As I say above, I have made it clear to Scotrail management that your union is available for talks at any time. At this stage, I have had no response, but I hope that they see sense and hear the concerns of you and your colleagues as well as the travelling public that it is essential for them to get round the table and find a resolution to this dispute.
I will of course write to you again on this dispute next week, but, in the meantime, I ask you to stand firm and defend your safety critical role. The rest of the RMT is behind you every step of the way.
SUPPORT YOUR UNION!
SUPPORT THE ACTION!
DEFEND THE ROLE OF THE GUARD!
Urgent information: As I was about to send you this letter, I have just received the news that Scotrail management have pulled the plug on the talks which they had offered for Monday next week and given no reason or explanation why it’s been cancelled. I’ll update you next week.