The dispute on London Tramlink may now seemingly be over with the cancellation of strikes but the latest dispute between workers and management on a UK tram network is set to bring severe disruption to Manchester Metrolink over the weekend of 8th and 9th June – a weekend which was expected to be very busy on the network with the Parklife festival taking place in Heaton Park (which means there will be no service on the Heaton Park Tramway that weekend either). At the heart of the dispute is pay with the latest pay offer criticised as it offers different staff different percentage increases. Control room staff are being called on strike between 2100 on Friday 7th June and 0559 on Monday 10th June.
According to reports KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM) have offered a pay increase of between one and five percent with changes to working conditions also said to be tied in to the planned increases. The exact details of what different staff have been offered but comments from Unite regional officer, Steve Davies, suggests that non-driver members may be getting the worse end of the offer. In a recent ballot 96% of members voted in favour of striking.
Mr Davies is quoted in the local media as saying: “We appreciate that the strike action is taking place during the popular Parklife Festival and travel disruption is on cards for festival goers – that’s why we are calling for urgent talks with the management to reach a fair settlement before the bands start playing. The company has adopted a ‘divide and rule’ policy in offering different pay rises to separate groups which we won’t tolerate – we are seeking a substantial pay rise for all our non-driver members. The company has also tied in any offer to a serious erosion of current employment conditions. The bosses are expecting a lot for their current offer including a worsening of unsocial hours working and new rosters impacting on our members’ work/life balance. We are calling out the network controllers across the 62 mile system and without them the whole network will grind to a halt very quickly.”
In response Aline Frantzen, managing director of KAM, said: “We’re disappointed that Unite have notified us of their intention to take strike action during Parklife weekend and we’re sorry for the disruption that will cause to customers if they go ahead with a strike. KAM is doing all we can to put robust contingency plans in place for alternative transport and we will give clear information to customers as early as possible.”
As usual in disputes like this both sides are publicly calling on the other to meet for constructive talks and it is said that these are ongoing but it remains unclear if the two parties will be able to reach a compromise that everyone can agree on.
If the talks fail it will cause major disruption for Metrolink throughout that weekend with a limited service likely to be able to operate.