Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Wednesday, 7 April 2010 18:31 UK

Rail talks end without agreement

ScotRail train
The RMT is due to hold another walkout on Monday 12 April

Talks aimed at averting strike action by Scottish rail workers have ended without agreement, it has emerged.

The RMT union and First ScotRail met with the conciliation service Acas to resolve an industrial dispute which has already resulted in three strikes.

The dispute centres on plans to not employ conductors on the new Airdrie to Bathgate line.

The RMT and ScotRail accused each other of "intransigence". Another strike is scheduled to begin on Monday 12 April.

The union is angry that only ticket examiners will be employed alongside drivers on the new line, which is scheduled to open in December.

It has argued conductors, or guards, are best equipped to deal with serious incidents and claims the plan will "jeopardise passenger safety".

Steve Montgomery
Mr Montgomery said about nine out of 10 trains operated on previous strikes

However, First ScotRail has dismissed the safety concerns and insisted the trains will be no different to those which have operated in Strathclyde for 25 years.

Following the talks with Acas, ScotRail's managing director Steve Montgomery said: "I welcomed the Acas meeting as a step in the right direction - but the only step taken by the union was backwards.

"Instead of conciliation, there was intransigence."

In a statement, the firm said it had provided the RMT with written guarantees aimed at allaying fears over the role of conductors, their job security and conditions of employment.

But the statement added "the union insists that conductors rather than ticket examiners should be the second person on trains on the new line".

'Absolute nonsense'

"I was extremely disappointed that our positive approach was rejected and the union has not put our guarantees to its members," Mr Montgomery added.

The RMT described ScotRail's claim about providing the union with guarantees as "absolute nonsense".

Assistant general secretary Pat Sikorski said many of the undertakings given by the firm were subject to agreement by Transport Scotland.

He said the only concrete guarantee ScotRail had offered was to retain the same number of guards across the network until the company's franchise runs out in 2016.

However, he added: "We remain available for further talks. We await the call from Acas."

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