ASLEF condemns First Minister on DOO

30 June 2016

ASLEF today condemned First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s misleading answer about DOO on the railway in Scotland. Kevin Lindsay, ASLEF’s organiser in Scotland, said: ‘The franchise commitment, signed off by her government, only state there should – not must – be a second person on a train. I have provided ScotRail and Humza Yousaf, the Scottish Transport Minister, with details of more than 200 trains which did not have a second person on the service. It is disappointing that the First Minister is desperately recycling Abellio’s discredited line and ignoring the legitimate concerns of passengers and staff about the proper running of the railway in this country. It’s time the Scottish government intervened and ensured that a conductor remains on the trains. ASLEF will not tolerate any extension of DOO and will be consulting our members over industrial action.’

This was the exchange in Parliament:

Neil Bibby (West Scotland)(Lab): To ask the First Minister what the Scottish government’s position is on the industrial dispute between the RMT and ScotRail.

The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon): I am extremely disappointed that we are seeing industrial action on our railways. It is, after all, the travelling public who lose out in such situations. I once again urge both parties to reopen meaningful discussions and work towards an agreement that prevents further strikes from going ahead. Safety is paramount in our rai lnetwork. Scottish ministers do not set ScotRail’s operational policy, but we expect employers and unions to arrive at a safe, efficient and customer-focused solution, and we believe that that can be done with no further strike action. A multiagency response team has operated on each of the strike dates and will do so if any more go ahead, and all modes of transport have continued to perform well.

Neil Bibby: The First Minister knows that conductor operation guarantees passengers that a rail worker in addition to the driver will always be on a train to assist passengers, including in the event of an emergency. Can she tell us whether the Government believes that passengers will be at more risk or at less risk if there is an accident or incident and there is no longer a second rail worker to assist? In addition to safety concerns, does the First Minister believe that disabled passengers will be disadvantaged if they no longer have the guarantee of the assistance of a rail worker?

The First Minister: Herein lies the complete misunderstanding of the issue that we are dealing with. The franchise mandates ScotRail to have a second member of staff on board each and every single train, unless there are exceptional circumstances. That is audited regularly. This is not an issue about whether there will no longer be a second member of staff on the train;this is an issue about whether it is drivers who open the doors. That policy of driver-controlled doors has been in operation on many of our rail services with no safety concerns for around 30 years. When I travelled from Irvine to Glasgow in my university days, the train was operated in that way. I repeat: this is emphatically not about having a situation in which there are not two members of staff on the train. If Labour wants to be helpful in the matter, it could start by understanding the issue and putting the right information out there—not the wrong information.

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