RMT to ballot ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper staff on strike action

ScotRail workers and staff on the Caledonian Sleeper are being balloted for strike action in the wake of a pay offer union bosses have branded as “derisory”.

The RMT union announced it would be balloting rail workers after staff working for both organisations received what it called “well below inflation derisory offers” which did not “fully reward members for their hard work and dedication”.

Ballots will open next Thursday and will run until August 8, the union said.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said rail workers were having to deal with ‘significant hardship during a cost-of-living crisis’ (Lucy North/PA)
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said rail workers were having to deal with ‘significant hardship during a cost-of-living crisis’ (Lucy North/PA)

With both ScotRail and the Caledonian Sleeper – which runs overnight services between various Scottish cities and London – publicly owned, the union said the pay rises offered to its members were “even more unpalatable” when compared with the 6.7% increase in MSPs’ wages this year.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “It is ludicrous that the MSPs ultimately responsible for running these services were taking bumper pay rises whilst subjecting workers to significant hardship during a cost-of-living crisis.”

Confirmation of the RMT ballot comes after the Aslef union claimed it was “unacceptable” for ScotRail to cut Sunday rail services by half due to staff shortages linked to an ongoing pay dispute.

The rail operator confirmed it is planning to operate between just 50% and 60% of services scheduled on Sundays due to a shortage of drivers volunteering to work overtime.

It comes days after ScotRail introduced a new temporary timetable, with about 26% of Monday to Saturday services cut.

But ScotRail said about half of its 1,100 Sunday services will need to be cut to provide “certainty” to passengers.

The pay dispute comes as drivers’ union Aslef confirmed it was considering whether to ballot members on industrial action, with another union, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) also considering action.

A 9% pay increase offered by ScotRail in six stages over three years has been rejected, with many drivers refusing to work extra overtime shifts in the meantime.

The offer would have been paid in a 2% increase across April in three years to 2026 as well as a further 1% rise in January in 2025, 2026 and 2027.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “While train planning and staff rotas are operational matters for ScotRail, we fully expect any timetable to give the best reliability and availability for passengers and that changes are communicated well in advance to enable effective journey planning.

“We acknowledge the desire of rail unions to negotiate a fair settlement for their members.

“ScotRail, as a public body and the employer, has responsibility and the ability to negotiate within the limits of public sector pay metrics.

“However, as rail unions have been made aware, any offer beyond these requires Scottish Government approval at senior level following the appropriate process.

“We would encourage rail unions to continue meaningful dialogue with ScotRail, so that a mutually agreeable outcome can be reached as soon as possible.”