ScotRail drivers call off strike after pay offer of 22%

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The Independent Online

Rail passengers were facing the threat of fresh disruption yesterday after 800 train drivers were offered a pay increase of 22 per cent.

The proposed rise for ScotRail drivers – 22 times the inflation rate – will almost certainly provoke industrial action as other transport workers attempt to match the rise.

The deal follows five days of talks at the London headquarters of the train drivers' union Aslef, which is recommending the agreement to employees.

The union called off 24-hour strikes on the ScotRail network scheduled for the next two Tuesdays. Drivers have already staged four days of industrial action.

Managers at ScotRail were at pains to point out that the 22 per cent was tied to productivity improvements and would be paid over three years, but the rise will form a target for other employees at the company and staff at other train operators.

A ScotRail spokesman said: "It will sweep away a host of outmoded working practices, address the company's concerns about the rise in short-term sickness and give us the productivity increases we need."

The agreement would raise basic salaries from £23,000 to £26,200 from 1 June rising to £27,000 in January 2003 and to £28,000 in January 2004. Aslef and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, which has a minority of drivers in membership, will now hold a referendum on the offer.

The start of the Easter getaway yesterday was marred for thousands of air and rail passengers by three separate industrial disputes.

More than 600 conductors on Arriva Trains Northern were striking until midnight last night in a row over pay, their action coinciding with the second day of a 48-hour stoppage by ticket and retail staff.

At Manchester airport more than 500 security staff were due to start a four-day walkout at midnight last night after a dispute over contracts.

An estimated 160,000 people will be using Manchester airport this weekend as the Transport and General Workers' Union moves into its eighth week of industrial action.

The union said last weekend's strike caused hundreds of delays, but the management, which blamed air traffic control for delays, said it would be business as usual this weekend.