Over 550 members of the rail union RMT employed by First ScotRail took part in a third 24-hour strike on Saturday 13 March in opposition to the company’s plan to run trains on the new Airdrie-Bathgate line without conductors. The union also staged a hundred-strong rally of strikers at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station.
Running trains without conductors on the new route would breach earlier commitments given to the union that there would be no extension of the use of driver-only trains, it would also jeopardise passenger safety on the route and it would set a precedent for introducing driver-only trains on other routes.
In an attempt to undermine the strike First ScotRail press-ganged other employees (including managers flown in from the south) into working as conductors on strike days — and given very little training.
The 20 February strike saw doors being activated when a train was short of the platform at Falkirk Station, and doors on a train at Queen Street Station in Glasgow being activated on the track side instead of the platform side.
The latest strike action will be followed up by a meeting between the RMT and Scottish Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson. Stevenson runs the Transport Scotland quango, which gave the go-ahead for running driver-only trains on the Airdrie-Bathgate route.
The RMT is is demanding direct talks with the Scottish First Minister, and assurances that First ScotRail will not be indemnified for losses resulting from the strike action.
First ScotRail’s strikebreaking tactics have had no impact on the strikers’ morale. As RMT General Secretary Bob Crow stated: “Our members are rock solid across Scotland.”