University to be ‘flexible’ with students cut off by rail shutdown

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Stirling University has said they will be flexible with students who cannot make it to classes during ScotRail strikes.

Stirling students who travel in from across the Central Belt will be hit with two weeks of severe travel disruption.

The university has moved to calm concerns over attendance requirements, saying it will “offer flexibility to any students prevented from being able to access campus during this time”.

It has advised all students with concerns over attendance requirements for face-to-face learning, to contact the relevant faculty to make arrangements.

With strike talks still deadlocked and a deadline for negotiations just hours away, millions of rail users look set to face nearly a fortnight of a rail “shutdown” across the country.

The Scottish Government, rail operators, and the RMT have been locked in negotiations for weeks in an attempt to avert a strike that would cripple much of Scotland’s rail network. 

The RMT has warned, “time is running out” in hopes to prevent a “shutdown” as it accuses the SNP of placing an “arbitrary deadline” for 5pm this evening.

The UK’s largest transport union has labelled the deadline a “roadblock” after rejecting what it described as a “pitiful” deal that it argues constitutes a “de facto pay cut”.

Image credit – ScotRail

A spokesperson for Transport Scotland has stated negotiations have been ongoing for “some weeks” and been conducted in “good faith”.

They have expressed disappointment at the rejection that it has claimed the RMT took “nearly two weeks” to inform Scotrail of their decision.

In a statement on Monday, Scottish Minister for Transport Graeme Dey claimed the RMT “moved the goalposts” after the two parties had been “close to agreement”. The minister has admitted to being “utterly perplexed” and labelled the union’s actions as “misguided.”

Scotrail, owned by Abellio, has also expressed disappointment over the RMT’s rejection of what it claims is a “very good pay offer.”

As of 2pm, Transport Scotland has reiterated that the 5pm deadline for negotiations remains in place.

Image credit – ScotRail

The row between unions and rail operators has centred on pay and rest day working, and the strain COP26 will put on workers across the network.

The deal on the table consists of a 4.7% pay rise and a £300 one-off payment for those working over COP26; however, rest day working remains a sticking point.

Full university statement

A university spokesperson has said – “The University is aware of the potential for industrial action by rail workers next month, as well as the general impact of COP26 on traffic and travel, services and businesses in and around Glasgow. We encourage all students to plan their journeys in advance during this period, and anyone who has concerns about being unable to meet any face-to-face learning requirements should contact their faculty in the first instance, to discuss their individual circumstances. The University will offer flexibility to any students prevented from being able to access campus during this time.”

Image credit – University of Stirling

Scotrail has stated it will continue to run limited services around Glasgow during the strike period, but the rest of the network will see a loss of all services. In addition, the Caledonian Sleeper will also face significant disruption as a result of the strikes.

Image credit – Businessgreen.com

Separately, LNER and Avanti West Coast have both confirmed their services in Scotland will remain unaffected by the strike action.

The strike has been timed to coincide with the UN’s climate change conference, COP26, to be hosted in Glasgow from the 1st to the 12th of November.

Featured image credit: ScotRail/Harry Williamson

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Journalism Studies undergraduate at the University of Stirling

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