SCOTRAIL has been accused of trying to import an "army of strike breakers" from England after it emerged that railway workers on Abellio-run Merseyrail have been asked to travel to Scotland to fill posts left vacant by striking conductors.

Manuel Cortes, General Secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA), said it was "underhand and provocative" that their members were being called upon to help undermine industrial action by the RMT trade union, whose members are in dispute with ScotRail over driver-only operations.

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He has written to Scotland's Transport Minister Humza Yousef, urging him to stop ScotRail training Merseyrail staff.

Both networks share a parent company with ScotRail currently run by Dutch-owned Abellio, while Merseyrail is operated jointly by Abellio and Serco.

In a letter to the Transport Minister, Mr Cortes said: "TSSA has been informed that Merseyrail are looking to send staff to Scotland to undermine industrial action by RMT at the request of ScotRail (Abellio).

"TSSA members have been included in this course of action and Merseyrail staff have been asked for their availability to travel to Scotland solely to undermine this industrial action.

"At this point it is unclear whether our Merseyrail members can opt out or refuse without recourse.

"This leaves them vulnerable to undue pressure by Merseyrail senior management and possible conflict with the RMT union who have exercised their lawful right to take industrial action."

READ MORE: ScotRail workers to launch fresh strikes in driver-only train row

John Tilley, regional organiser for RMT, said 10 Merseyrail conductors had been approached, including an RMT member who "point-blank refused".

He added: "These ten individuals’ jobs would all disappear with the proposed introduction of driver-only operated trains by Merseyrail in the near future.

“It is bizarre for Abellio to think that these poor individuals would willingly volunteer to bestow the same fate on the Scottish colleagues."

It comes after a third round of talks between RMT and ScotRail representatives, mediated by Acas, ended in deadlock yesterday.

Conductors are set to strike again for 48-hours on July 10-11, meaning around a third of ScotRail services will be cancelled.

Further walkouts are also planned for July 14, 16 and 17.

RMT wants ScotRail management to rule out extending driver-only operations - which they consider unsafe - during the lifetime of the franchise.

ScotRail insists that it has not tabled any plans to do so, but stresses that more than half of all ScotRail services already use DOO. It has also said it will always run trains with "at least" one crew member besides the driver, and that no conductors will lose their job, pay or conditions.

DOO means that the driver, not conductor, opens and closes the train doors. It is common practice in electrified zones such as the Strathclyde area, where ticket examiners have replaced conductors over the past 30 years.

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Industry regulator, the Office of Road and Rail, says DOO is a "safe method of working" provided suitable equipment, procedures and staff are in place.

A ScotRail spokesman said: "As our customers would expect we are making every effort to run as many ScotRail services as possible during strike days.

“A small number of Merseyrail managers have been asked to support ScotRail over this period. These managers are highly experienced, and fully qualified and trained for the duties they are performing.”

A spokesman for Transport Scotland said: “We welcome input from all parties in the debate, however the issue of staffing during industrial action is one for the operator to manage under the terms of their contract.

"Our position is and always has been that discussions must continue in order to give us the best operational solution and we would call for all parties to get back around the table to avoid further disruption to passengers.”