RAIL staff are furious at a "despicable" social media campaign by ScotRail over a conductors' strike which is to cause further disruption this weekend.

Union leaders are furious at official tweets and statements that warn that the strike "will impact on key workers making essential journeys". It was retweeted by ScotRail managing director Alex Hynes.

Another criticised the workers for striking while "facing the biggest financial crisis in our history".

It comes the next stage of planned industrial action by ScotRail conductors will go ahead on Easter Sunday in what the RMT union describe as the "fight for equality and justice" over enhanced payments for rest day working.

The RMT says that union members have had no apology from ScotRail, which is run by Dutch state train operator Abellio,  for what it called the "despicable and aggressive social media campaign slandering their own staff for taking action that's been forced on them during the pandemic".

HeraldScotland:

The union said that the dispute comes despite the fact that it is front-line workers who have kept trains running at "huge personal risk" while ScotRail bosses have been able to "retreat to a place of safety".

ScotRail has not directly comment on the unions' concerns over the social media campaign.

READ MORE: Strike threat over 'scandalous' failure to pay ScotRail staff after expected £1bn Covid subsidy

The RMT said relations with the company have been further "poisoned" this week ‎with the offer of what amounts to "little more than a pay freeze with a handful of crumbs from the bosses table" on a while Abellio "milk every penny they can out of the dying months of their ScotRail franchise".

HeraldScotland:

ScotRail is already facing potential general strike action over a "slap in the face" pay deal while the cost of Scotland's railways is set to soar by over £1 billion over two years due to Covid-19 emergency funding.

The main ScotRail unions including Unite, ASLEF, RMT and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association are consulting with hundreds of workers over industrial action.

And Unite have criticised a “scandalous” failure to support staff while awarding Dutch state-owned transport firm Abellio which runs ScotRail the emergency Covid payments.

HeraldScotland:

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said of the conductors action: “I have no doubt that our ScotRail members will continue to show full support and stand shoulder to shoulder during the days of industrial action exactly as they did last Sunday.

“Abellio ScotRail is a company that has opted to declare war on their staff rather than recognising the issues at the heart of this dispute and the company have resorted to disgraceful mud-slinging and deliberate provocation.

READ MORE: Direct state control of ScotRail will provide better value for taxpayers' money, says Michael Matheson

“Staff at the front-line who have put themselves at huge risk during this pandemic will take no lectures from company bosses who have kept themselves will clear from danger and who are now seeking to squeeze every last penny out of the dying months of this franchise.

“Those profits and fat management fees are being extracted off the backs of their staff and RMT have made it clear that we will not allow ScotRail to divide the workforce in this cavalier fashion.

“All we are demanding is that ScotRail do what is fair and honour an enhanced rate for rest day working for all grades.

“The union remains available for meaningful talks aimed at settling this dispute.”

ScotRail warned customers to expect "significant travel disruption" on Easter Sunday because of strike action by the RMT during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ScotRail said: "Conductors are taking part in the strike for six consecutive Sundays, in a bid to force an increase in overtime payments at a time when ScotRail is facing its worst ever financial crisis.

HeraldScotland:

Some of the reaction to the ScotRail tweets

"It means that services will be cancelled on a number of key routes and will have a significant impact on people who need to travel, including NHS workers delivering a critical service during the pandemic.

"ScotRail is proud to provide high-paid and highly-skilled jobs, paying excellent salaries and benefits to our employees.

"The strike comes with passenger numbers and revenue down more than 90 per cent compared to before the pandemic. Coronavirus restrictions, including the instruction for people to work from home, have resulted in the number of people travelling with ScotRail to plummet.

"Throughout the pandemic, ScotRail has continued to provide services for key workers who are reliant on trains to get them to work in order to perform life-saving duties on the emergency front-line, hospitals, and care homes. The railway is now supporting the rollout of the vaccine.

"The RMT balloted its conductor members despite all ScotRail jobs being protected thanks to emergency Scottish Government support, with no staff placed on furlough or any cuts to basic wages or terms and conditions."

It said an emergency measures agreement (EMA) has been agreed with the Scottish Government, which will continue until at least September 2021, and means ScotRail can continue to operate services for key workers and keep its 5,200 staff in secure jobs.

ScotRail has received more than £400million in extra government subsidy to allow it to operate a service for key workers and pay staff wages in this year alone.

But the rail company, added: "However, due to the industrial action being taken by RMT conductor members, the train operator says it will not be able to provide the same level of services for essential workers over the next five Sundays."