10 September 2021
RMT Press Office:
RMT demands meeting with MSPs who signed ‘ill informed, inflammatory and insulting’ statement and warn “time is running out” to avoid rail COP26 dispute.
RMT has today written to the 5 SNP Glasgow MSPs who waded into the Scotrail dispute, slamming their letter as ‘inaccurate’, ‘inflammatory’ and ‘insulting’, and calls on them to meet the union and help resolve the dispute.
The union has also warned that “time is running out” to avoid a rail dispute around COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference being held in Glasgow in November.
RMT Scotrail members will be taking further action this weekend in long-running disputes over basic pay justice and equality - disputes that the SNP has not lifted a finger to help resolve despite having political control over transport matters.
In his letter, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch calls out the SNP MSPs for parroting ‘Murdoch press’ rhetoric around union ‘bosses’ and of failing to understand the democratic structures of unions.
Mr Lynch also comments that the MSPs’ references to the dispute being run by ‘London bosses’ and ‘London leadership’ is an insult to the members and elected leadership in Scotland who are leading this dispute.
In their original statement, the 5 SNP MSPs attacked the union for consulting its Scotrail members on whether to take strike action during the COP26 summit.
The union accuses the Scottish government – which controls and funds the Scotrail franchise – of failing to take action to resolve the dispute.
<Full text for Letter to MSP’s>
10 September 2021
Comment on your statement and invitation to meet
I’m writing with reference to the joint statement to which you were a signatory over the weekend, which was ill informed, insulting and inflammatory. You appear to have little understanding of unions in general and the RMT in Scotland in particular.
Your letter refers to the actions of RMT’s ‘London bosses’ and the “London Leadership”, stating that this is who is making decisions and who should come to the table for negotiations.
You’ve misunderstood the way that decisions are taken in the RMT. The reason why the union is proceeding with a consultative ballot is that this is what the union’s representatives in Scotland want.
Indeed, Unions in general are democratic organisations and decisions are taken by democratically elected leaderships.
Personally, I find your parroting of the Murdoch-press’s hackneyed anti-union rhetoric about union ‘bosses’ disappointing.
I would also comment on the fact that your letter makes two separate references to “London bosses” and “London leadership”, implying that this was a deliberate decision and something you wished to emphasise. Choices over language are important and I think your decision to stress your mistaken view that decisions are being made by people from another country, was regrettable and leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It’s also insulting to the members and elected leadership in Scotland who are leading this dispute.
It is therefore of no surprise that not just the Scottish Labour party but also members of your own party and those of the Scottish Greens, your partners in government, have been critical of your comments.
We all recognise the importance of the COP26 summit. Our members who work in public transport are going to be vital to the kind of decarbonised transport system we need in the future and they recognise the importance of this summit as well as anyone. However, as I said over the weekend, it really is a bit rich for you, or the SNP administration to call on us to come to the table and sort out the dispute when we have been asking the Scottish Government to do just that.
As you are aware, your government is now funding and controls the Abellio Scotrail franchise and you can, at any moment, take action to resolve the dispute. Instead, the Scottish government has chosen to hide behind the fiction that this is an issue simply for ourselves and Scotrail and sit on its hands for six months. As a consequence of that choice, made by your government, we’re now looking at the action you are objecting to.
Time is running out and the position you and the Scottish government are taking is becoming increasingly isolated.
Where we do agree, however, is that it’s high time this dispute was resolved. I know that our reps in RMT Scotland are ready and willing to meet you at a time and place of your choosing to discuss how to resolve this long-running and unnecessary dispute. Instead of publishing ill-informed , inflammatory and insulting statements, I would invite you to meet with them to discuss how this can best be achieved.
RMT General Secretary