Fifetoday.co.uk has received a growing number of concerns from the public in Fife recently regarding what they see as deteriorating train services from ScotRail.
In the last few weeks there have been reports of trains between Edinburgh and Fife being cancelled, or showing up with only two carriages during some of the busiest periods, meaning in some cases there isn’t enough space to passengers to get on even if the service does stop.
In recent weeks, passengers have been told by ScotRail that a lack of staff has been causing the problems.
With three Fife services cancelled yesterday morning, some frustrated passengers were told by ScotRail workers that staff were working to rule.
However, it has been revealed that the shortage comes as a result of an ongoing dispute which has seen a union ban on overtime - leaving ScotRail without enough workers to cover their services.
The RMT Union says that ScotRail relies on existing staff members to do extra time in order to keep services running.
ScotRail recently made an agreement with drivers to increase rest day working payments – extra pay for working on their days off – but the rail firm refuses to do the same with other ScotRail staff.
RMT’s Michael Hogg said the action involves about 3500 staff across Scotland.
He said: “We are in dispute with ScotRail over rest day working payments.
“ScotRail did a deal with the drivers through their union Aslef, so that every time they work their rest days they get £300.
“In the drivers case, if they were to work their rest days, they’d get around £180, because drivers are paid good salaries, it’s the same with any train operating company.
“The drivers, and what’s called a rest day working agreement, is reviewed every 12 or 18 months.
“Aslef have gone in with a demand for extra money for working their rest days and ScotRail gave it to them.
“Everybody else is paid £100. So on behalf of the people I represent I’ve had meetings with the company and they have refused point blank to entertain any rest day working payment in line with drivers, because we were seeking parity.
“We’re not saying the drivers shouldn’t get that £300, what we’re saying is if it’s good enough with the driver, it’s good enough for everybody else.
“ScotRail argue that they’re an equal opportunities employers, but that only applies when it suits them.
“Sunday’s not part of the working week. Abelio inherited that from First Group.
“It’s actually run on the overtime so if drivers other staff members don’t work overtime there’d be no trains running on a Sunday.
“We balloted all members for strike action and action short of a strike. We didn’t meet the threshold for strike but did for action short of a strike - and that’s a ban on overtime and a ban on rest day working.”
Michael said that an offer by ScotRail was put to members, meaning the industrial action was put on hold.
He added: “During the referendum we decided to suspend the action, and because the ballot rejected the offer, we’ve had to give the company a further 14 days notice for the action to be reinstated.
The 14 days notice expired as of 12.01am yesterday morning. So the action is back on.
“We remain available for talks, and ScotRail are not going to give us what we are looking for.
“They’re under the kosh big time, whether it be industrial relations, raw sewage being dumped on the tracks, they’re desperate to resolve this issue but they’re not prepared to actually come forward with a deal that is acceptable to the RMT.”
In August ScotRail launched a £4m recruitment drive in the hope of reducing the need for rest day working, however, with the ongoing industrial action it would appear that it hasn’t had the desired impact.
A ScotRail spokesperson said: “We are continuing to work with our people and their trade union representatives to resolve this.”
Get in touch and tell us your story