On Tuesday, the first 48-hour rail strike by RMT members over the holiday season is scheduled to start
According to ScotRail, a minimal service will be provided on a few lines
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Network Rail employees will strike, followed by another strike on Friday and Saturday.
It is the most recent move in a protracted fight over wages and working conditions.
The UK’s railways are maintained by Network Rail, a department of the Department for Transport.
Amid the most recent industrial action, passengers have been advised to only travel if “absolutely necessary.”
Between December 13 and December 17, ScotRail has announced that it will operate a skeleton service on a select few lines across the central region, Fife, and the Borders.
“While this is not a matter in which the Scottish Government has any locus, I urge the (UK transport secretary Mark Harper) to take a different approach and work with the trade unions to secure a railway that benefits users, staff and taxpayers,” she said.
“Scotland has embraced the concept of fair work, so it is disheartening to see our own progressive activity in this regard being put at risk by the inevitable wider consequences of the UK Government’s ill-thought out, hasty and hostile approach to industrial relations.”
Gilruth also warned against plans which she suggested could involve compulsory redundancies for Network Rail staff.
She continued: “We do not welcome UK Government plans for so-called radical rail reform agenda which have yet to be explained to Scottish ministers in any detail, but which appear to be a guise for compulsory redundancies in the Network Rail workforce, including in Scotland.
Every day throughout that time, the services will run from 7.30 am to 6.30 pm, the operator noted.
The 48-hour strike this week comes before more action is done in December that is expected to have a substantial impact throughout the holiday season.
Members of the RMT who work for Network Rail will also go on strike from Christmas Eve 6 p.m. to December 27 6 a.m.
Jenny Gilruth, Scotland’s minister for transport, asked the UK government to approach the dispute’s resolution with a “different perspective.”
“The Scottish Government remains committed to our long-standing policy of no compulsory redundancies.
“However, the last three secretaries of state for transport have failed to engage in any meaningful conversations on these matters – an approach that is quite unsatisfactory given the seriousness of this Network Rail dispute.
“We will continue to work collaboratively with the trade unions in Scotland to make public ownership of Scotland’s railway a success.”
Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines insisted that RMT must “stop playing politics”.
“The RMT leadership needs to think long and hard about what to do next. Further strike action will cause further misery for the rail industry and for their members who will lose pay,” said Haines.
“This news is especially frustrating given that we learnt today that colleagues represented by Unite union have accepted the very same offer put to RMT members.
“The RMT are the outliers here. They need to stop playing politics and work with us to bring this dispute to an end.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said that it had “played its part” in trying to resolve the dispute.
“The Government helped facilitate a fair and improved offer, delivering a pay increase more generous than those in the private sector and guaranteeing no compulsory redundancies,” they said.
“The significant proportion of RMT members who voted to accept this, despite being instructed not to, clearly recognised that.
“Unite members have accepted the very same offer and the TSSA leadership has also recommended its members to accept it.
“There is clearly an appetite amongst the workers themselves to strike a deal, which is what makes this result even more frustrating.
“The Government has played its part in trying to resolve this dispute and it’s time for unions to play theirs.
“That’s not only what passengers and the public want, but clearly what a lot of rail workers want as well.”