RMT calls off ScotRail strikes, but no such luck on Southern

FURTHER planned strikes by RMT union members working for ScotRail have been called off for the time being so that further talks can take place to find a resolution to the dispute.

The rail workers are striking over extending the driver only operation (DOO) which is envisaged when the new Hitachi Class 385 units – currently under construction – begin service. The union is unhappy that drivers will open and close train doors instead of guards.

The RMT claims the dispute is about making sure trains run safely, but like Southern who are embroiled in a similar dispute, a number of ScotRail trains already operate in DOO mode.

Phil Verster, Managing Director of the ScotRail Alliance said: “I am really pleased for our customers and our people that the RMT have accepted our request to suspend further industrial action.

“Doing this allows us to get round the table and finalise an agreement that will, hopefully, bring this dispute to an end.”

He added: “We have made a very positive proposal that we will now seek agreement on. If it is agreed, it would mean that conductors could concentrate on delivering an even better service to our customers.

Meanwhile a similar dispute on Southern that began over the operation of new Class 387/2 Gatwick Express EMUs in a 12-car formation shows no signs of ending.

The RMT has called its members out on a five day strike from August 8, although Govia has asked the concillation service ACAS to broker talks, which are ongoing.

Just to add to Govia’s woes, on August 3, the Aslef union who have also been in dispute over DOO announced that it has decided hold a strike ballot over the train operator’s imposition of new rosters to facilitate the introduction of an emergency timetable. Towards the end of July, Southern issued the emergency timetable, cutting 341 services daily in a bid to combat an unusual rise in staff sickness which it believes is linked to the dispute.

The decision on strike action will be known early in September.

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