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Monday, 11 March, 2002, 13:22 GMT
New threat to ScotRail services
ScotRail train
ScotRail services are at a standstill again
Striking ScotRail train drivers may vote on a new round of industrial action beyond the three one-day stoppages which have halted services.

More than 70,000 passengers are being affected by Monday's 24-hour strike, with a further day of action planned for 19 March.

Talks between management and officials from the Aslef and RMT unions broke down without agreement on Friday.

There were noticeably more vehicles on the road this morning

Inspector David Dryburgh
Fife Constabulary
As union officials left the conciliation service Acas last week they warned that there would be a call for more strike action but gave no indication of what that might entail.

There are growing fears that commuters could be facing the prospect of an all-out rail strike which could close down the network indefinitely.

Monday's strike took its toll on roads in the central belt as traffic built up during the morning rush-hour.

Those travelling from Fife into Edinburgh were the worst affected, with tailbacks of up to four miles reported at the Forth Road Bridge.

Inspector David Dryburgh of Fife Constabulary said: "If anything there were noticeably more vehicles on the road this morning, with the build up at the bridge starting around an hour earlier than usual, at about 0630 GMT.

Pay parity

"But everyone remained patient and the flow was continuous, even if delays could not be avoided."

The M8 was also congested on the approach to both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The unions want pay parity with rail companies south of the border and have demanded a "substantial increase".

When the two parties met in Glasgow last week, union officials said they expected an improved pay offer to be made following an announcement that ScotRail is to receive an extra 70m in subsidies.

More action looks to be on the cards
But they left the talks two hours later, claiming that management had actually reduced the offer on the table.

ScotRail's acting managing director, Nick Brown, said he was "almost lost for words" and accused the unions of being "disingenuous".

A spokesman for Aslef said: "ScotRail is not negotiating in good faith. The company was given a massive increase in its subsidy so they cannot claim that they cannot afford to make a decent offer to their drivers.

"Our door remains open for further talks but ScotRail has to decide if it wants a settlement or not."

The unions claimed the company was making the pay offer conditional on "unacceptable" strings, including a cutback in bank holidays and compulsory rest day working.

Additional services

Mr Brown accused the unions of refusing to discuss productivity improvements.

He said ScotRail has made an offer of 26,295 for a 35-hour week and the company has taken away its request for a 37-hour week.

ScotRail said buses would replace trains on some routes on Monday, with some bus operators providing additional services to meet demand. Details have been posted on its website.

No further talks are planned over the dispute, which is already estimated to have cost the Scottish economy about 3m.

BBC Scotland's John Johnston reports
"Train operators are laying on extra buses"
See also:

08 Mar 02 | Scotland
ScotRail talks hit the buffers
07 Mar 02 | Scotland
ScotRail bailed out by government
06 Mar 02 | Scotland
CBI leader targets rail pickets
05 Mar 02 | Scotland
Talks fail to avert rail strike
01 Mar 02 | Scotland
Commuter outrage over rail strike
21 Feb 02 | Scotland
'Break rail row deadlock' call
24 Jan 02 | Scotland
Strike vote by ScotRail drivers
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