ScotRail Industrial Relations issues (including conductor strike action)

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Industrial action may be justified if an employer is seeking to worsen terms and conditions but is that what Scotrail are attempting to do here?
The industrial action is valid and legal.

Whether you think it’s justified or not is irrelevant.

Scotrail/the Scottish government are directly discriminating between different grades by paying drivers an overtime enhancement and refusing to pay it to the RMT members engaged in industrial action.
 
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ER158715

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Drivers get a fixed payment for working a rest day as per the agreement between ScR and ASLEF. This agreement has been in place for a number of years and is based on the fact that there is still a shortage of drivers. In our depot, there is only about 15% of drivers who work rest days. It is subject to periodic review.
As for Sunday’s, a booking on allowance is paid plus the hours worked. This has also been in place for a good few years.

Once the driving grade is fully staffed, it would seem logical that the RDW agreement terminates.
 

43096

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The industrial action is valid and legal.

Whether you think it’s justified or not is irrelevant.

Scotrail/the Scottish government are directly discriminating between different grades by paying drivers an overtime enhancement and refusing to pay it to the RMT members engaged in industrial action.
It’s not discrimination. It’s separate agreements for two groups of workers who have different unions and have negotiated different deals.
 

Starmill

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It’s not discrimination. It’s separate agreements for two groups of workers who have different unions and have negotiated different deals.
You can use the word "discrimination" to describe it, it's just that it's not unlawful. It's merely not to the preference of some staff.
 

Watershed

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Scotrail/the Scottish government are directly discriminating between different grades by paying drivers an overtime enhancement and refusing to pay it to the RMT members engaged in industrial action.
They also discriminate between the different grades by paying drivers approximately 60% more to begin with. And those who are management grade get no overtime payment at all. But no-one is going on strike about either of those kinds of discrimination.

Not all discrimination is unlawful, let alone objectionable. So the fact that there is are differences between grades is a pretty weak basis for going on strike if you ask me - quite apart from Scotrail (allegedly) acting in accordance with the agreement the RMT signed up to.
 

wobman

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The industrial action is valid and legal.

Whether you think it’s justified or not is irrelevant.

Scotrail/the Scottish government are directly discriminating between different grades by paying drivers an overtime enhancement and refusing to pay it to the RMT members engaged in industrial action.
Well said

They also discriminate between the different grades by paying drivers approximately 60% more to begin with. And those who are management grade get no overtime payment at all. But no-one is going on strike about either of those kinds of discrimination.

Not all discrimination is unlawful, let alone objectionable. So the fact that there is are differences between grades is a pretty weak basis for going on strike if you ask me - quite apart from Scotrail (allegedly) acting in accordance with the agreement the RMT signed up to.
It's all down to interpretation of the agreement and if the document was clear instead of being so vague, then non of this would be happening.
Also the SNP could just make Sundays part of the working week and the dispute would stop straight away.
 

Horizon22

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Well said


It's all down to interpretation of the agreement and if the document was clear instead of being so vague, then non of this would be happening.
Also the SNP could just make Sundays part of the working week and the dispute would stop straight away.

Adding in vagueness to contracts & agreements with phrases such as "where possible" and "as required" is often one way changes are made. Frankly its on the RMT if they allowed such an agreement to go ahead without fully clarifying what the meaning meant to all parties and then complaining when it is interpreted in a certain way. A similar issue occured when essentially full DOO came in on Southern.
 

43066

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They also discriminate between the different grades by paying drivers approximately 60% more to begin with. And those who are management grade get no overtime payment at all. But no-one is going on strike about either of those kinds of discrimination.

Not all discrimination is unlawful, let alone objectionable. So the fact that there is are differences between grades is a pretty weak basis for going on strike if you ask me - quite apart from Scotrail (allegedly) acting in accordance with the agreement the RMT signed up to.

It sounds like this all turns on interpretation of “excessive” rest day work rather than an objection to different treatment of grades per se. As you rightly say it’s common across the industry for different Ts and Cs to apply for different roles so I find it very hard to believe that this is the root cause of this dispute.

Adding in vagueness to contracts & agreements with phrases such as "where possible" and "as required" is often one way changes are made. Frankly its on the RMT if they allowed such an agreement to go ahead without fully clarifying what the meaning meant to all parties and then complaining when it is interpreted in a certain way. A similar issue occured when essentially full DOO came in on Southern.

It’s difficult to be definitive without knowing precisely what is being disagreed about (which I suspect none of us commenting here do). It’s also true that there are (at least!) two sides to every agreement, and railway management are not above “creatively” interpreting things to suit themselves.

What I object to is the default “management good, union bad” position adopted by some posters in these debates which are invariably a lot more nuanced than meets the eye.
 

wobman

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It sounds like this all turns on interpretation of “excessive” rest day work rather than an objection to different treatment of grades per se. As you rightly say it’s common across the industry for different Ts and Cs to apply for different roles so I find it very hard to believe that this is the root cause of this dispute.



It’s difficult to be definitive without knowing precisely what is being disagreed about (which I suspect none of us commenting here do). It’s also true that there are (at least!) two sides to every agreement, and railway management are not above “creatively” interpreting things to suit themselves.

What I object to is the default “management good, union bad” position adopted by some posters in these debates which are invariably a lot more nuanced than meets the eye.
This seems the default position with some posters, why let the facts get in the way of some good old union/traincrew bashing.
 

43066

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I'm sure the same accusation could never be levelled at union leadership either! :lol: ;)

Ha! I’m sure it can and has been on many occasions. They aren’t *always* wrong though ;).

Of course it’s also true to say the senior leadership (and some of their wackier hobby horses such as Cuban Fisherman etc.). isn’t reflective of the grass roots membership.
 

Harold Hill

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I dare say a few years from now the Scottish 'government' will load the public sector unions with apparatchiks and make strikes illegal.
 

Goldfish62

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I'm a strong believer in trade unions and I'm still a trade union member even though I've moved from the world of employment to self-employment. I'm also a strong defender of the right to strike - it's an essential part of the democratic system. However, that doesn't mean that I support every strike. I've always believed that no one actually wants to strike and that it's only used when all other avenues have been exhausted. I have been on strike and manned a picket line myself. In recent years, looking from the outside, that striking seems to be increasingly a first resort in the railways. Perhaps I'm wrong, but that's the impression I get.

What puzzles me somewhat is that from being a member of this great forum for a few years I get the impression that railway staff seem to be quite an unhappy lot so I wonder why there has not been a mass exodus from the railways with staff moving to other industries where they might be happier, or at least less discontent.
 

43096

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What I object to is the default “management good, union bad” position adopted by some posters in these debates which are invariably a lot more nuanced than meets the eye.
And likewise there's also always plenty of "management bad/union good" posturing adopted as the default by some posters. You're right that it is invariably more complex than a simple yes/no, right/wrong on one side or the other.

This seems the default position with some posters, why let the facts get in the way of some good old union/traincrew bashing.
Why let the facts get in the way of some good old management bashing? Especially given that we don't know all the facts.
 

43066

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I'm a strong believer in trade unions and I'm still a trade union member even though I've moved from the world of employment to self-employment. I'm also a strong defender of the right to strike - it's an essential part of the democratic system. However, that doesn't mean that I support every strike. I've always believed that no one actually wants to strike and that it's only used when all other avenues have been exhausted. I have been on strike and manned a picket line myself. In recent years, looking from the outside, that striking seems to be increasingly a first resort in the railways. Perhaps I'm wrong, but that's the impression I get.

Fair enough. I’m also far from a traditional “union person”, but it seems to me that unions (and especially rail unions) get an unfairly bad reception. Perhaps that’s a legacy of the 1970s miner strikes, and Thatcherism. Usually from what I’ve seen it takes a lot for a dispute to reach the stage of action and nobody actually *wants* to go on strike!


What puzzles me somewhat is that from being a member of this great forum for a few years I get the impression that railway staff seem to be quite an unhappy lot so I wonder why there has not been a mass exodus from the railways with staff moving to other industries where they might be happier, or at least less discontent.

It’s true that a lot of people on the railway could moan for England :D, but it’s telling that few leave by choice. There are some who are somewhat institutionalised, usually those who have never worked outside it. That’s gradually changing as there are more of us coming in from other backgrounds these days.

Beneath all the moaning most of us are fully aware that we are very lucky to have decent Ts and Cs and relatively good job security, especially at the moment.
 

Bald Rick

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It's the way businesses want agreements, it's all they offer. It's their way or go into dispute you will find. You will find very well paid lawyers devise these agreements.

I can attest, personally, that unions have very well paid lawyers as well.

My point is that to agree something - anything - requires two parties to reach common ground. If one of the parties subsequently doesn’t like it then they can try to get it changed, but it needs both parties to agree to the changes.
 

alangla

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Interestingly, Milngavie actually gets a service this Sunday (1TPH, from Edinburgh) and, what’s this? RRBs west of Dalmuir!

RRBs aren’t showing on RealtimeTrains for some reason, but the diversions are as above.
 

the sniper

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It’s true that a lot of people on the railway could moan for England :D, but it’s telling that few leave by choice. There are some who are somewhat institutionalised, usually those who have never worked outside it. That’s gradually changing as there are more of us coming in from other backgrounds these days.

Beneath all the moaning most of us are fully aware that we are very lucky to have decent Ts and Cs and relatively good job security, especially at the moment.

It is though the belligerence of the 'institutionalised' that has chiefly maintained/enhanced the T&Cs that attract the outsiders, who seemingly increasingly seem to think that these T&Cs were/are just gifted to the grade...
 

Goldfish62

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It is though the belligerence of the 'institutionalised' that has chiefly maintained/enhanced the T&Cs that attract the outsiders, who seemingly increasingly seem to think that these T&Cs were/are just gifted to the grade...
Oh, but it has been gifted to a degree. In the transport sector only the railways receive constant bailouts from the government, who are seemingly prepared to fully underwrite any damage done by industrial action. It's little wonder that railway workers think themselves invincible. I can hardly blame them.

Sadly for all concerned being belligerent didn't work out so well for the miners, dockers or printers.
 

Carlisle

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Also the SNP could just make Sundays part of the working week and the dispute would stop straight away.

Fine, & perhaps staff who defended generous wage rises throughout the austerity period on forums like these on the premise they were private, not public sector employees are now willing to repay any differences .
 

Starmill

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Fine, & perhaps staff who defended generous wage rises throughout the austerity period on forums like these on the premise they were private, not public sector employees are now willing to repay any differences .
I imagine that to become properly public sector they will have to follow a universal pay framework agreement.
 

43066

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It is though the belligerence of the 'institutionalised' that has chiefly maintained/enhanced the T&Cs that attract the outsiders, who seemingly increasingly seem to think that these T&Cs were/are just gifted to the grade...

There’s a great deal of truth in that. In my experience the overwhelming majority of those who join as operational staff from other backgrounds see the benefits of union membership immediately. Personally I would feel hypocritical not belonging, much as ASLEF is far from perfect.

As you and I have discussed on other threads there is a recent trend of open access operators denigrating unions to applicants, and for prospective joiners to parrot that message on here. It’s fairly obvious who will benefit from that approach, and it won’t be the staff, as will become all too apparent.

Sadly for all concerned being belligerent didn't work out so well for the miners, dockers or printers.

No, it didn’t in the end, but largely for external reasons: the mines weren’t economically viable in light of cheap coal from abroad; dockers went with containerisation of sea freight and printers were ultimately displaced by computer technology.

Applying that to the railway, I don’t think anyone has seriously suggested shutting it down wholesale. Covid has clearly had a massive impact on revenues, but the railway isn’t inherently profit making at the best of times (its purpose is driving economic growth), and much will depend on recovery in passenger numbers over the next year or two.

That said the unions (and especially the RMT given their membership base) are not naive to the fact that costs are being scrutinised and certain grades are clearly under existential threat, especially the likes of ticket office staff. Much as further destaffing might please some, two things are certain: it won’t make the passenger experience any better, or any cheaper

Fine, & perhaps staff who defended generous wage rises throughout the austerity period on forums like these on the premise they were private, not public sector employees are now willing to repay any differences .

Nope. On the modern railway we privatise the profits, socialise the losses. :)
 

Nicholas Lewis

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Doesn't even get mentioned in the last meeting of the Transport Scotland Rail franchise performance meeting held on 19 August 2021 minutes published on 3/9.

https://www.transport.gov.scot/publ...e-performance-meeting-minutes-19-august-2021/

If TS and the Scottish Govt are really committed to modal transfer from roads they need to have a vision for public transport and engage with the unions to get it delivered. This means agreeing a set of T&C's that deliver operations when they are needed, and that needs to include Sundays, and it means all the staff that are involved to deliver it be it driver, guards, depots staff, gateline and despatch staff etc. Perhaps a visible commitment from TS and the Transport ministers to address this long running issue may well then elicit at least a suspension of action.
 

the sniper

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Sadly for all concerned being belligerent didn't work out so well for the miners, dockers or printers.

If they'd been passive and disorganised, Driver's pay would be 20k lower, T&Cs eradicated and PNBs would be taken on benches in stations, with the local homeless and bus drivers... Everyman and his dog wouldn't be applying. If the current conditions had been gifted, the unions would have been irrelevant.

Being passive hasn't worked out great in a large number of industries...
 

notadriver

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If they'd been passive and disorganised, Driver's pay would be 20k lower, T&Cs eradicated and PNBs would be taken on benches in stations, with the local homeless and bus drivers... Everyman and his dog wouldn't be applying. If the current conditions had been gifted, the unions would have been irrelevant.

Being passive hasn't worked out great in a large number of industries...

As a bus driver I feel insulted ….
 

43066

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If they'd been passive and disorganised, Driver's pay would be 20k lower, T&Cs eradicated and PNBs would be taken on benches in stations, with the local homeless and bus drivers... Everyman and his dog wouldn't be applying. If the current conditions had been gifted, the unions would have been irrelevant.

Being passive hasn't worked out great in a large number of industries...

From what I gather a fair bit has been sold along the way. Driver pay was low for years when they were represented by the same union. Privatisation and a competitive employment market changed that, as did a sea change in what is expected in terms of professionalism and responsibility.

Drivers hold a whip hand because ASLEF is canny, but ultimately because we’re a finite and difficult to replace resource. The harsh reality is that anyone with a car license can be trained up as bus driver within a couple of weeks, versus a year or more for a train driver at a cost usually quoted at around £100k; a length and cost of training similar to an airline pilot.
 

Carlisle

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If TS and the Scottish Govt are really committed to modal transfer from roads they need to have a vision for public transport and engage with the unions to get it delivered.
That in itself seems unlikely to guarantee anything.
As @Bletchleyite said a while back in another’ thread the unions generally appear to favour simple conservatism ie very little change apart from wages & conditions improving at acceptable levels
So if management propose a more radical restructuring there’s still a strong possibility of deadlock & all the repercussions that follow.
 
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wobman

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Fine, & perhaps staff who defended generous wage rises throughout the austerity period on forums like these on the premise they were private, not public sector employees are now willing to repay any differences .
What does that have to do with Sundays being part of the working week and employing more staff ?
 

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