STUC says public transport workers are ‘climate heroes’

October 28th 2021

STUC says public transport workers are ‘climate heroes’

October 28th 2021

As unions ASLEF, RMT, Unite and TSSA launch ‘A vision for Scotland’s Railways’ Successful collective action by rail and bus workers provides the foundation for a green recovery in transport.

• More than 1300 First Bus Glasgow drivers are being balloted during the COP about strike action, following the rejection of a pay offer by the company.

• Industrial action in Scotrail has been averted after workers were offered a last minute improved pay deal.

• Caledonian Sleeper staff - which is the overnight service many had been relying on to travel to COP26 from London – is set to strike between October 31 and November 2, and again between November 11 and November 13.

• The rail unions have launched a campaign ‘Save Our Scotrail’ campaign in response to Scotrail’s plans to reduce services and close ticket offices.

• A strike was also averted in several Stagecoach depots after progress was made on a pay offer.

The STUC says that the failure of the private sector to offer decent pay and conditions for workers is undermining the future of public transport. The STUC which is running a ‘Our Climate Our Buses campaign’ says that workers are fighting for investment in high-quality bus and rail services which are crucial if climate targets are to be met. 36% of Scotland’s emissions come from transport. Bus use has fallen by 43% since it was deregulated by Margaret Thatcher, and proposed cuts threaten Scotland’s railways.

The union body is calling on the Scottish Government to change track on its transport policy, arguing the Scottish Government’s ‘Bus Partnership Fund’ privileges private companies and excludes publicly-owned bus services. The £500 million Fund requires Local Authorities to establish deregulated ‘Bus Partnerships’ with private operators to access funding. Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, has said Scotland’s bus partnership model is “a failed middle ground that should be phased out in favour of public control and ownership”. [1]

Meanwhile, ScotRail’s consultation over a proposed new timetable, would mean a 12% cut compared to pre-pandemic rail services. A key problem that gave rise to ScotRail industrial action was the attempt by bosses to link the pay offer to a reduction in ticket office opening hours. The STUC are calling on the Scottish Government to intervene to shelve office closure plans.

Speaking from the launch of ‘A vision for Scotland’s Railways’ [3] at the Scottish Parliament, Roz Foyer, STUC General Secretary stated: “Public transport is absolutely crucial in the fight against climate change, but better services need to be paid for. These workers are the real climate heroes, not the delegates flying into COP26. Scotland’s trade union movement congratulates them for standing up to bad bosses, taking action for better services, and winning.

“The Scottish Government’s ‘bus partnership’ approach has been tried and failed many times before. Rather than providing £500million to partnerships with private operators, it should provide £500 million to Local Authorities to run bus services in public hands.

“It is unbelievable that as we head into COP26, Scotrail is proposing cuts to the railway timetable and cuts to ticket offices. Scotland’s railways need investment – not cuts.

“The Scottish Government needs to show that it is hand in hand with the people when it comes to taking action on climate change, not big business who care more about profit than providing decent, well-run services.”


Notes [1]

[2] STUC’s ‘Our Climate, Our Buses’ campaign