PROTESTERS have been escorted out of Glasgow’s Central Station by police this morning after staging a noisy demonstration in support of striking rail workers.

The trade union protesters and supporters got into the empty station as rail services in Scotland were crippled because of a fresh strike by thousands of workers in a bitter row over jobs, pay and conditions.

They were chanting along to a version of the dance pop song Freed From Desire by Gala. In place of Freed From Desire, the group chanted 'The RMT's On Fire, the government is terrified'.

Police moved in and turned off a soundsystem, prompting a scuffle.

One protester was heard to tell police to "calm down".

British Transport Police officers then escorted the noisy protesters out the station, but the demonstration continued outside.

The protesters held banners stating "we refuse to be poor anymore" and "cut profits not pay".

The supporters had marched outside Glasgow Central with a large banner reading: "Solidarity With The Strikes".

Scots were being told only to travel by train if necessary today and ScotRail described the three-day impact of daily strikes by RMT members working for Network Rail as "very frustrating".

The strike will mean fewer than a tenth of nationalised ScotRail services will be able to run, as staff with Network Rail - which owns the UK's rail tracks, stations and signals – walk out during the first of three planned UK-wide strike days.

Some 40,000 members of the RMT union working at Network Rail and 14 train operators are involved in the stoppage.

It comes after talks over pay, jobs and terms and conditions failed following the biggest rail strikes in 30 years over three days in June.

RMT Scottish regional organiser Gordon Martin who was at the Glasgow protest said: "The public are fully aware that everybody's living conditions and life at work are being attacked and they fully support us.

"The RMT have lit a flame under the whole trade union movement, we need to throw petrol on that flame, get the fire going and make it clear to the UK government and others that we will not be on our knees.  

"We are fighting for today. We are fighting for tomorrow. We're fighting for our kids and grandkids and their future in work and future in communities."

A British Transport Police spokesman said: "We were called to Glasgow Central at 8.12am following reports that a large group of student protestors had gathered in the station. Officers attended to support rail staff and ensure peaceful protest. They continue to remain on scene."

The strike action will affect Network Rail operations and 14 train companies across Britain – including some cross-border operators on – causing significant disruption for customers.

Just five ScotRail routes in the central belt will continue to operate between 7.30am and 6.30pm, Scotland’s nationalised train operator has said.

Picket lines are being mounted outside railway stations across Scotland, including at Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley, and at depots.

The dispute is over a pay and plans to axe hundreds of critical maintenance jobs.

Strike action was also expected to see disruption on Tuesday evening and the morning after on Thursday, due to the closing and reopening of signal boxes at different times across the country.

Roz Foyer, the Scottish Trades Union Congress general secretary, who was also at the Glasgow protest said: "What is great is to see the whole movement out here today.  What's not so great is to see a government that is missing in action and is stopping this dispute getting settled."

In Edinburgh, RMT members gathered outside Waverley train station chanting “solidarity” and “workers united”.

Union member Mike Hogg said: “The purpose in the picket line today is to demonstrate to all concerned within the society that rail workers are on strike demanding a pay increase because rail workers have not had a pay increase for the last three years.

“I don’t think it’s been unreasonable to request a pay increase.

“What we are getting from Network Rail and the Government is an attack on terms and conditions and a resounding no to a pay increase.”

A protest is also expected outside Network Rail’s head office in Glasgow.

Scotland’s transport minister Jenny Gilruith said the UK Government needs to “inject the political willing” to resolve disputes across the rail network – but she insisted there is a distinction between the current strikes and the action taken by ScotRail staff in the last few weeks.

She said it is “vitally important” for all parties to work together to find a resolution.

RMT union general secretary Mick Lynch said the strikes continue to be effective even though many commuters are choosing to work from home.

“It’s completely effective on our terms. Our members are completely behind the strikes, our picket lines are very vibrant and well-supported, and we’re getting a lot of support from the public,” he said.

“There’s a lot of leisure travel now and people won’t be able to use that.

“We don’t want to disrupt people, but [the strikes] have an effect on the companies, they’re not getting their income and they’re being indemnified by the Government to conduct this dispute.

“The Government is giving these companies £20 million a day to run this dispute on their behalf, so it has an effect.

“We don’t want to have the effect of disruption on the public – we want a settlement and an agreement that our members support.”

Asked about his plans to restrict strikes, transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “I’m a reasonable guy and I think that people should have the right to withdraw their labour and strike.

“The question is one of proportionality. We have, in this country, a railway that still works, in many cases, on rules and regulations from the ’70s, the ’60s, the ’50s and in one case from 1919. That’s where the lack of Sunday working comes from.

“We simply have to modernise it.”

He added: “It is perfectly reasonable to withdraw your labour. You shouldn’t be able to ballot on one subject, as has happened here, and then widen the strike out to everything else, and then keep it going in a forever strike kind of fashion.”

Members of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) at Avanti West Coast are also striking on Wednesday, which will affect services between Glasgow and London, while members of drivers’ union Aslef at eight companies will walk out on Saturday.