A RAIL union has warned of possible strike action over a breakdown in contract talks.

TSSA union has written to ScotRail to say it is preparing a ballot for strike action.

The union said it has been excluded from contract talks and has warned of a “near complete breakdown of industrial relations”.

The dispute centres on Driver Team Manager staff who TSSA said have had changes to their contracts, meaning they need to cover driver shifts, without negotiating with the union which leaders say it has the sole recognition for.

TSSA said the DTM staff will receive ballot papers this week and it expects to issue to all other grades of staff in the near future.

Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary, said: “ScotRail has systematically and deliberately excluded our union from talks. We believe this is a cynical and deliberate attempt to undermine our union and deny our members their right to representation and a voice in their workplace.”

He said staff are “furious” and ready to vote in favour of industrial action.

Mr Cortes added: “ScotRail wouldn’t need to force Driver Train Managers to cover shifts if they had employed enough Drivers in the first place. As always Abellio are trying to do things on the cheap and it’s blowing up in their face.”

ScotRail said managers already drive trains as part of ensuring competency in the role and that only seven of 50 are TSSA members.

A spokesman said: “We’ve been hiring qualified and trainee train drivers to help us make Scotland's Railway better.

“While this recruitment and training takes place, we have agreed that our driver team managers will drive trains to avoid cancellations.

“The investment we are making to recruit more drivers is helping us significantly to enhance the day-today running of services for our customers.”