NATIONALISED ScotRail is facing months of chaos, after a 'final' 4.2% staff pay offer was rejected without ever being put to train drivers.

The national executive committee of the train drivers union Aslef rejected ScotRail's pay offer in a dispute that has seen ScotRail services cut by a third due to driver shortages brought about by a work-to-rule.

It was confirmed that an expected verbal referendum of train drivers did not take place.

The discussion was expected before a full consultation and formal vote expected to last up to four weeks.

But it was the union's executive committee that rejected the pay offer - which included changes that it was hoped would end driver shortages in five years time.

Last week's talks between the union and ScotRail ended with a 'final offer' rise from an initial 2.2% - in the wake of major cuts to services as a result of the pay dispute.

But Aslef's executive committee rejected the offer and the union will now proceed to a ballot for industrial action if ScotRail refuse to engage in further talks.

Transport Scotland said it was "disappointed" Aslef decided to reject the "very good offer on the table" and feared "further disruption for passengers in the immediate term".

READ MORE: Concern over ScotRail driver recruitment 'scandal' that led to service cuts

ScotRail said that Aslef "did not even recommend allowing its members a say on the offer via a referendum".

The train operator said it was a "good offer, which was significantly improved on the previous offer" and has called on Aslef bosses to reconsider "in the interests of both their members and the financial sustainability of the railway in Scotland".

The state-controlled train operator is seeking to meet the union on Monday to discuss their concerns.

Aslef Scottish organiser Kevin Lindsay said: "Aslef wants to negotiate a fair deal for our members, we are once again calling on ScotRail to return to the talks, so we can negotiate a fair pay offer that we can put to our members."

ScotRail is also facing the threat of strike action from members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) who have also been offered the 4.2% offer. The RMT represents the vast majority of the 5000 ScotRail staff include some drivers.

The RMT is also threatening UK-wide action which would hit all ScotRail services from mid-June onwards as a result of a separate dispute with Network Rail, the owners of the rail infrastructure, including tracks and signals.

But Scottish Labour transport spokesman Neil Bibby said ministers needed to get round the table with unions and ScotRail and agree "a fair deal for rail workers before services grind to a halt altogether".

HeraldScotland: Neil Bibby has hit at fare increases for ScotRail passengers

He said: “It’s hard to imagine this shambolic ScotRail service getting any worse, but that’s exactly what will happen if the SNP fail to resolve this situation. “This government’s disgraceful lack of leadership has left services in chaos and industrial relations at an all time low.

“However much the SNP try to pass the buck, blame for this turmoil lies firmly at their door.

“Rail passengers can’t keep paying the price for SNP failure."

It comes a day after Scotland's transport minister Jenny Gilruth said she was "hopeful" the new pay offer will resolve the dispute.

The dispute has resulted in train drivers refusing to work on rest days or on Sundays and triggered a wave of cancellations on top of a new emergency timetable which has seen 700 services scrapped since May 23.

Train drivers, who having completed all training and a probation period are being paid some £52,000 per year - a rise of £3,640 (7.5%) in the past three years. Three years ago the pre-nationalised service was paying £48,360 to qualified drivers.

The timetable cuts came after over 1800 trains were cancelled at the last minute over 15 days and just over seven weeks after ScotRail was taken into public ownership by the Scottish Government in what ministers hailed a “historic” move.

Questions had remained over whether train staff, especially drivers, would accept the 4.2% pay offer - as at least one union aspired to have pay rises closer to a rate of inflation of 8.2%.

As part of the deal, ScotRail  made a commitment to make changes to ensure there was a seven-day rather than the current six-day working pattern within five years. The changes were aimed at ending the driver shortages which has seen train services severely disrupted.

HeraldScotland: The cancellation of many ScotRail services has proved controversial

It had offered to bring Sundays into the working week with full implementation "expected" by the 2027 December timetable.

But union sources feared that that is because it would require massive investment and a huge recruitment campaign to get enough drivers, conductors, ticket examiners and other staff.

The Herald on Sunday revealed concern that state-controlled ScotRail’s current plans to bring in 130 new train drivers will not end a staff shortage which has led to rail chaos.

As of yesterday evening there was still not one ScotRail train driver job being advertised on the website.

Ministers have confirmed that the vast majority of the new batch of drivers will not be trained up by the end of this year.

Transport minister Jenny Gilruth said on May 19 that ScotRail had been advertising for drivers.

On Tuesday, Scottish Conservatives' transport spokesman Graham Simpson was critical after Ms Gilruth was unable to declare any contingency plans if Aslef rejected the pay offer and continued the dispute.

Passengers spoke of a “shambles” on Sunday when over 400 services were affected by the driver shortages as ScotRail were unable to put in place a temporary timetable in time.

And on another chaotic ScotRail day on Monday, while the temporary weekday timetable was expected to remain in place for the Scotland v Ukraine World Cup clash on Wednesday evening, extra late trains were found at the 11th hour.

The changes came hot on the heels of a chaotic Saturday, when again late night train services were laid on at the 11th hour in some areas hours after a new driver shortage timetable released on Friday had axed them.

The late train to some areas had disappeared in many areas on Friday - with final trips setting out up to four hours earlier before any night outs would have barely begun.

Ms Gilruth on Tuesday dismissed fears that ScotRail chaos caused by a shortage of train drivers could last weeks even if Aslef had accepted the pay offer, while saying the emergency timetable has been delivering a "reliable service".

HeraldScotland:

ScotRail says the temporary but indefinite timetable has come as a result of the drivers' pay dispute which has meant some refusing to take up the option of working rest days and Sundays, crucial to keep trains running in Scotland.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We are disappointed that Aslef, having given due consideration to the terms they negotiated, have decided to reject the very good offer on the table, an offer which is in part self-funded through increased revenue and efficiencies.

"While we understand any unions desire to obtain the best deal possible for their members, the stark realities of the financial pressures we are facing across Government are evidenced by the Spending Review published just yesterday.

“We all need to work together to make nationalisation a success. Ministers are committed to ensuring that the railway unions are part of that success.

"However, to be part of the vision moving forward, the unions’ need to agree on a deal that is both fair and affordable, particularly in the context of wider public sector pay policy.

"While, regrettably, this decision appears to mean further disruption for passengers in the immediate term given there is no indication that drivers will return to previous rest day working and overtime arrangements, we would encourage all parties concerned to get back round the table to resume negotiations.”

David Simpson, ScotRail service delivery director, said: “We’re incredibly disappointed and frustrated that ASLEF bosses have rejected this improved pay offer. It’s astonishing that they will not even put this offer to their members.

“Our substantially improved pay offer reflects the cost-of-living challenges faced by families across the country, while balancing it against the need to provide value for the taxpayer.

“We have offered to meet Aslef but, in the meantime, would urge them to reconsider this offer in the interest of their members and the future of the railway in Scotland.”