Scotland’s Transport Minister has called for rail strikes to be suspended while talks take place, amid the prospect of a legal challenge to the industrial action.
Humza Yousaf insisted a solution to the dispute over driver-only trains could be found after a meeting of the Scottish Government’s resilience committee.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at ScotRail are set to walk out for 48 hours from August 7, then for a further 24 hours on August 11, and over the weekend of August 13/14.
The union opposes any extension of driver-only trains and wants guards to be in control of operating doors, stating safety is at the core of the dispute.
Mr Yousaf said the strikes are inconveniencing many people and damaging the reputation of Scotland’s railways, as he called on all parties to focus on resolving the situation.
His comments came as ScotRail challenged RMT’s actions.
A company spokesman said: “We have written to the RMT to challenge some actions by the union that we believe contravene the legislation that governs industrial action. We await their response.”
An RMT spokesman said: “There is a threat of a legal challenge that RMT will look at in detail before we respond formally.
“This latest move shows that ScotRail are keener on interfering in workplace democracy under the cover of the anti-union laws than they are in dealing with the issues of rail safety at the heart of the current dispute.”
Members of the RMT have already staged a series of strikes since the row flared, which the union said had been “solidly supported”.
Mr Yousaf said: “Although ScotRail has been running over 80% of services as normal on recent strike days, I am aware this industrial action is inconveniencing many people and damaging the reputation of Scotland’s railway.
“Safety on our railways is paramount and I have sought and received assurances from the independent rail regulator around the safety of driver-controlled operation.
“To ensure we are prepared for the planned strikes and that disruption is minimised should they go ahead, I convened the Scottish Government’s resilience committee today.
“As has been the case throughout this period, the Scottish Government’s national traffic control centre will be staffed on strike days to monitor the impact on our transport network and co-ordinate appropriate contingency plans.
“I believe there is a solution to be found through negotiation and as talks are still ongoing I would call for these strikes to be suspended and for all parties to focus on resolving this increasingly frustrating situation.
“As always, I would like to thank the public for their endurance.”