THE RMT held a protest outside of Scottish Tory headquarters demanding that UK Government ministers remove themselves from pay negotiations, telling them to “keep out of it”.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) Scotland branch picketed outside the Tory party’s Edinburgh office on Thursday ahead of further strikes set to take place across the country next week.

The dispute over pay, conditions and jobs has been rumbling for months, with rail services stopped across the country in July due to the industrial action organised by the RMT and ASLEF.

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The protesters also criticised Tory leadership contenders Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak’s vow to ban the right to strike and their plans to crack down on “militant trade unions”.

Although a few windows were open at the Scottish Tory office, it didn’t appear as if anyone was inside during the protest.

RMT Scotland organiser Gordon Martin said his message to whoever takes over from Boris Johnson as prime minister is simple.

“We will not be slaves, you will not be banning the right to strike and if you think you’re going to do it you will unleash merry hell from the whole trade union and labour movement. It’s unacceptable, and we will resist it with everything we have,” he said.

Over 50 trade unionists from the RMT, Unison, Unite, STUC and UCU, stood on the Scottish Tories' doorstep in Northumberland Street, Edinburgh, in the blaring sun, waving banners and holding placards in solidarity.

A number of speakers addressed the crowd through a portable microphone and speaker, including Scottish Labour MSPs Richard Leonard and Mercedes Villalba, as well as Alba MP Kenny MacAskill.

East Lothian MP MacAskill told the gathered crowd: “We live in a democracy with the right to vote, but equally we have the right to withdraw our labour.

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"You are not serfs, you do not require to be forced to work, you have to be able to say 'I will not work for those terms and in those conditions', and it’s not simply about pay, it’s also about jobs.

“That’s why it comes back to why this struggle is important, why we’ve all got to support the RMT because where the RMT go we’ve got to put shoulder to shoulder to support them. If the RMT lose, exactly the same as the miners, we will all lose.”

Referencing Truss’s bid to outlaw strikes, former Scottish Labour leader Leonard said: “The message to those forces in this building here is we will resist all of those moves that are an attack on our fundamental rights and an attack on democracy.”

RMT Scotland members held a protest out of Scottish Tory headquarters in EdinburghKenny MacAskill, left, and Richard Leonard, right, attended the protest in Edinburgh

“This is a class-based society, there is a class system, so people had better decide which side they are on,” he added.

During the protest workers blared the Sex Pistols' song Liar through the speaker and chanted “the workers united, will never be defeated”.

Speaking to The National after the protest, RMT organiser Martin said he had a simple message to send, adding: “What we’ve got at the moment is a national rail dispute, where the UK government are intervening but not in a positive way.

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“They’re intervening in a detrimental way and blocking resolution to this so they either need to get fully involved or they need to stay fully out of it to allow the managers to meet with our negotiators to resolve it.

“We’ve got a clear message for the Tory party; keep out of it.”

The RMT is set to go on strike again on Thursday August 18 and Saturday 20, and Martin said they would remain firm on their demands.

RMT Scotland members held a protest out of Scottish Tory headquarters in EdinburghProtestors targetted Scottish Tory HQ but it didn't appear that anyone was in the building

He added: “They’re ripping up terms and conditions, slashing everything, pay rises that are in effect pay cuts, we aren’t having it.

“This applies equally to Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government. We will not be accepting derisory pay offers, we will not be accepting politicians that we send to Holyrood to meekly sit by and say well it’s down to Westminster.

“We expect boldness and imagination from the Scottish Government, not the tumidity and managerialism that we currently have.”

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Dave Moxham, STUC deputy general secretary, said that he believes the RMT strikes are only the beginning.

He told The National: "This is part of a wider upsurge in the context of the cost of living where we’re seeing workers across many sectors in Scotland, people who are looking forward to a winter where they won’t be able to afford their energy or housing costs, standing up and saying we need an inflation level increase and we will not be able to sustain our livelihoods if we don’t.

"I think over the next period you’re going to see workers not just in transport but in public services, universities and across our sectors saying this is enough."

RMT Scotland members held a protest out of Scottish Tory headquarters in EdinburghJen Bell said the RMT had the Scottish Greens full support

Jen Bell, co-convener of the Scottish Greens trade union group, said the RMT’s work was “incredible” and had the party’s full support, but was scathing in her message to the Tories.

“We refuse to suffer for you anymore, we do not exist as numbers on your screen, we refuse to exist just to make bar charts go up for you.

“We are humans and our work has dignity, we’re not asking at this point, we’re telling - we will not stand for this anymore,” she said.

The Scottish Tories and Scottish Government were contacted for comment.

You can watch the full protest and speeches below.