Scottish Government ‘caved in’ to rail union demands – UK Transport Secretary

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The Scottish Government was able to resolve a union dispute with rail workers because it “caved in”, the Transport Secretary has claimed.

Mark Harper said the government in Edinburgh had not offered value to taxpayers when it agreed to demands from the rail unions for a pay rise.

His criticism of the SNP-run government’s resolution came after the party’s transport spokesman in Westminster Gavin Newlands asked why the UK Government had not been able to bring an end to industrial disputes in England.

Mr Newlands told MPs: “Disputes involving unions and the Scottish Government were resolved very quickly, yet Scots passengers have faced disruption due to this Government’s unwillingness and inability to resolve disputes.

Mr Harper replied: “The reason why the Scottish Government reached a conclusion is that, I think, because it caved in, it has not delivered reform and I think it has overpaid with taxpayers’ money.

“There is a balance to strike here about fair and reasonable offers that are fair to the workers in the industry, the passengers that it serves, but also to the taxpayer and that is a responsibility I take very seriously.”

Train drivers working on nationalised ScotRail services agreed a 5% pay increase last year.

Rail services were brought into public control last year in Scotland, under an operator of last resort model run by the Scottish Government.

Mr Harper called on unions representing rail workers to consider the most recent offer made to them by the Government.

The Transport Secretary said: “The clear outstanding issue is not a new offer, but it is for the offers to be put to the members of the trade unions to enable them to make a decision, and there is an offer on the table to train drivers as well, who are in the Aslef union, that has not been put to their members either.”

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