Consultative ballot for industrial action on Edinburgh Trams

Strikes may be heading to Edinburgh Trams with Unite the Union announcing their intention to hold a “consultative ballot” of some of their members. The decision has been made as a result of what they call “a damaging culture of blame” but although they are concerned about this enough to call the vote this ballot would not give the union the mandate to call a strike with a second legal ballot required for this but it would presumably be used during negotiations to say that if a resolution isn’t reached there would likely be the final mandate to strike.

According to the union one worker has recently been suspended and others have been disciplined over incidents which they claim held little risk to the public or others. There is also an accusation that there is an inconsistency when management deal with incidents.

Lyn Turner, Unite regional officer, stated: “The management culture within Edinburgh Trams shows a pattern where the assumption of blame is the first choice of some managers. The management at Edinburgh Trams must know that workers cannot be motivated through blame or fear. Unite accepts that safety is the primary concern at all times. However, the decision by management to escalate what we see as a few incidents that did not compromise safety, to disciplinaries and sacking offences is simply unreasonable and unjust. These matters could have been dealt with quickly and fairly. Instead management have raised the bar and meted out punishment well beyond what was necessary which has led to the decision to ballot our members for industrial action.”

A spokesperson for Edinburgh Trams said: “We typically have a very close working relationship with the trade union which helped achieve an overwhelming 99 per cent support in this year’s pay negotiations. Therefore, although this is not a legal ballot, we are surprised that Unite have chosen to take this action. We are also disappointed they have not allocated time to resolve their concerns through our recognised internal processes. We are committed to working with Unite to understand their concerns and our communications channels remain open. In the meantime, it is business as usual and we continue to operate the same award winning service our customers have become used to.”

This is just the first stage towards any potential strike action and the results of this ballot would not be able to lead to industrial action. This would require a second legal ballot which would presumably come after the two sides discuss the issues further.

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