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Series of strike action looms in Perth and Kinross in the run up to Christmas and New Year

A series of strike action will impact Perth and Kinross over the Christmas and New Year period if pay and working condition disputes are not resolved.

Members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) are taking further industrial action against Network Rail, resulting in ScotRail services being impacted and cancelled.

Strikes are planned from 6pm on Christmas Eve through to 5.59am on December 27 with further walkouts planned for December 13, 14, 16 and 17 and January 3, 4, 6 and 7.

Network Rail signallers and maintenance staff, who are in safety-critical roles, will be the ones on strike.

ScotRail is currently “working through” its timetable plans for the days that the strikes have been arranged.

Long-running disputes over low pay and working conditions have meant that rail strikes have been frequent this year.

The RMT has urged members to reject Network Rail’s latest pay offer of four per cent, in an electronic ballot that will close at noon on Monday, December 12.

A Network Rail statement reads: “Due to industrial action, there will be significantly reduced train services across the railway from Tuesday, December 13 until Sunday, January 8.

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) picket line at Perth Delivery Office. Pictures by staff photographer Richard Wilkins

“Trains will be busier and likely to start later and finish earlier, and there will be no services at all in some places.”

RMT union members at ScotRail last month accepted an increased pay offer of 7.5 per cent and upwards, averting strikes in the run up to Christmas.

Parcel and letter deliveries will be severely affected in the run up to Christmas as local Royal Mail staff continued their series of planned strikes today as part of a long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

Communication Workers Union (CWU) members who collect, sort and deliver parcels and letters are on the picket lines today (December 9) and will also do so on December 11, 14, 15, 23 and Christmas Eve.

The strikes are expected to create delays in the delivery of parcels and letters in what is the busiest time of year for the service.

Members of the CWU in Perth and Kinross have already held a series of walkouts in recent months, including over Black Friday and last Wednesday and Thursday.

The union is calling for a pay rise that “fully addresses the current cost of living”, citing that the current RPI inflation rate is at 11.8 per cent.

Royal Mail has said that it has “well-developed contingency plans” to minimise disruption and says it has offered an enhanced pay deal of nine per cent over 18 months and “a number of other concessions” to terms and agreements.

They add the offer is subject to agreeing a “programme of change” with the CWU.

Meanwhile, a number of secondary school teachers in Perth and Kinross took part in industrial action yesterday (December 8).

The strikes by members of the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA) and NASUWT unions meant all local secondary schools except Pitlochry High School closed to pupils in S1-S4 due to low staffing numbers.

Ministers have offered teachers on the lowest wages a 6.85 per cent rise.

Iain Glennie, assistant general secretary with the SSTA, warned of “further strike action in January” unless employers improve their offer.

The largest teaching union, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), also rejected the offer and saw members walk out on November 24, closing nearly every school in the country.

EIS also announced strike days next year with Perth and Kinross teachers to walkout on January 17, along with planned strikes by primary teachers on January 10 and secondary teachers on January 11.

An EIS picket line outside Robert Douglas Memorial School in Scone last month. Screengrab from the EIS Twitter page.

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the request for a 10 per cent increase for all teachers “is not affordable” and said the latest offer was “fair”.

MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Claire Baker has urged for resolutions to be found to the working condition and pay disputes ahead of Christmas, saying: “As we move into the festive season, we need to see a resolution to the ongoing pay and conditions disputes involving an number of key sectors.

“These workers have been pushed to disruptive action only as the last resort in their pursuit of fair pay and conditions.”

In other news, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Scotland is balloting members over the government’s revised pay offer, averaging 7.5 per cent, to NHS Scotland health workers.

The consultative ballot is now open and closes noon on Monday, December 19, with industrial action paused in the meantime.

Planned Scottish ambulance service strikes were also suspended as unions Unite and GMB Scotland consult members over the same offer.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon and health secretary Humza Yousaf were said to be involved in “extensive” talks ahead of the proposal.

Dates for the consultative ballot involving GMB members in NHS and SAS are yet to be confirmed.

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