SCOTRAIL has tabled an offer aimed at averting two strikes before Christmas which will be considered by union leaders today.

More than 2000 members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union are due to walk out on Saturday and again on Christmas Eve, threatening major disruption for shoppers and passengers travelling home for Christmas.

RMT members on the firm's sleeper services are also set to strike for 24 hours from the evening of December 21 and again from the evening of December 23.

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However, talks with the RMT yesterday were described as constructive and the union's national executive is due to meet today to consider a formal offer drawn up by ScotRail.

The planned action is in support of Scott Lewis who was dismissed for gross misconduct following a lengthy argument with a passenger who had tried to claim a free travel offer while on a train to Prestwick Airport in March.

But it was unclear whether the union's demand to have Mr Lewis reinstated had been met.

A union spokesman said: "Following further dialogue between RMT and ScotRail, the union is in receipt of a formal offer from the company aimed at resolving the current dispute."

A spokesman for the train operator said: "ScotRail confirmed that constructive dialogue has taken place with the RMT to avert strike action next weekend and to end the dispute."

Earlier talks aimed at resolving the dispute broke down on Saturday with the RMT saying it had been "led up the path" by ScotRail, which it said had not been prepared to discuss reinstating Mr Lewis.

The ticket collector was dismissed after complaints that he had been intimidating, ScotRail said.

The RMT insisted the charges were a travesty and that Mr Lewis had been following normal company procedures for helping the passenger.