PASSENGERS face further disruption on Scotland's railways as team managers vote for strike action in a dispute over covering for staff taking part in industrial action.

The action comes as it emerged gatelines at ScotRail stations have joined conductors, ticket examiners and cleaners in taking industrial action over a pay dispute.

Weekly strikes over pay have been staged for three months by conductors and ticket inspectors in particular employed by the operators of ScotRail services, the Dutch state transport operator Abellio.

Rail staff union TSSA today wrote to ScotRail warning them to expect industrial action after members working as conductor, revenue and on-train team managers with ScotRail voted for strike action in a complaint about being forced to fill in for absences caused by other industrial actions or understaffing.

Members voted by 62.5% for strike action in the TSSA ballot, and 93.75% for action short of strike.

It has been further confirmed gateline staff have also voted to take action short of strike action will begin a work-to-rule from next month.

But ScotRail, which is run by Dutch state-owned transport firm Abellio, has urged staff to come together to rebuild Scotland's railways saying industrial action is "completely wrong" for staff and customers as services become more increasingly used with the easing of lockdown.

A TSSA source said: "Abellio has a long history of relying on goodwill rather than staffing the railway properly and members have run out of goodwill. Covering an emergency, such as staff sickness is one thing, covering for the company deciding not to employ enough staff is another."

ScotRail pointed out that of the 163 gateline members entitled to vote in the ballot, just 38.7 per cent voted to support strikes. It said that as support for the latest action by the RMT union did not meet the legal threshold of 40 per cent of the total number of people entitled to vote, the strike action was averted.

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But RMT has said that industrial action short of strike will take place. It said that there would be no overtime, and other duties including rest day working from August 11 and until further notice.

The union is concerned about the withdrawal of enhanced payments for rest day working. This allows workers to increase their salary by working overtime.

HeraldScotland:

entitlements from workers including a rest day working agreement - which allows workers to increase their salary by working overtime.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “ScotRail Gateline staff will be taking industrial action next month in their fight for pay justice.

“Their dispute runs alongside those of other grades at the company whose disputes have run for four months in what are now some of Britain's longest running industrial disputes.

"With yet another grade taking industrial action at ScotRail over the same issue, we call again on Transport Scotland, the Government and Abellio to face the fact that there is a real problem that needs urgently resolving and sit down with us to negotiate a fair and just settlement for all grades."

But ScotRail says the gateline staff vote actually put further pressure on RMT bosses, who "stand accused of not representing the views of their members", who are telling them they do not want to be on strike.

They said the decision by the gateline team follows a further two recent rejections for strike action where their engineering and train presentation members also refused to back the union’s call for strike action.

"ScotRail is facing its most serious financial crisis," it said. "The train operator has been able to continue to operate during the pandemic thanks to significant financial support of more than £400m from the Scottish Government. This has protected jobs, without the need to use furlough, cut wages, or reduce staff benefits.

"As the union leadership is well aware, the Scottish Government has made it clear there is no extra money available and the top priority for everyone should be to achieve recovery of the railway. The train operator has consistently urged RMT bosses to call off the strike to enable recovery."

Phil Campbell, ScotRail’s head of customer operations, added: "As we continue to welcome customers back to Scotland’s Railway, now is the time for everyone to work together to rebuild.

“ScotRail is facing huge financial challenges, so industrial action over increased overtime payments is completely wrong for staff and customers as we are now starting to see customers return to Scotland’s Railway.

“The rejection of strike action shows that RMT bosses are becoming increasingly out of sync with views of their own members, who want to create a more sustainable railway for the future. We call on the union’s leaders in Scotland to stop this damaging campaign of disruption.”

Of the TSSA vote, he said:  “I’m disappointed the team manager members have voted for strike action just as we are starting to see customer return to Scotland’s Railway.

“Strike action is wrong at a time when we need to deliver a safe and reliable service and provide stability for our staff and customers alike. It is frustrating that TSSA have tried to disrupt our services instead of working together with ScotRail to address the longer-term challenges that face the railway.”

In March it emerged the cost of Scotland's railways to the taxpayer is set to soar by over £1 billion over two years due to Covid-19 emergency funding set up to compensate for loss of income due to lockdown.

A further £450m in emergency funding was expected to be given to rail operators until March, next year on top of usual subsidies, after which Abellio relinquishes control of ScotRail. A confirmed EMA has been put in place for £173m till September, 2021.

Some 97% of the emergency payouts go to Abellio-controlled ScotRail with the remainder going to Caledonian Sleeper, which is run by Serco.

In 2019/20, before the Covid-19 crisis, Scotland's railways cost the taxpayer £832.6m which is made up solely of subsidies of £476.9m to Abellio ScotRail, £13m to Serco Caledonian Sleeper as well as £355.7m paid directly to publicly owned Network Rail for the keep of the infrastructure, which includes the track and signals.

Transport Scotland said the the EMAs were originally required because of a "very significant shortfall in revenue due to an around 90% drop in passengers".