War of words erupts over London Trams strike action

As reported earlier this week, engineers on London Trams will be going on strike from 2000 on Sunday 5th May until 0600 on Thursday 9th May. This will cause major disruption on the network and now just before the strike begins a war of words has erupted between Unite the Union and Transport for London.

To recap the strike has been called over what the union calls a disparity in the wages offered to engineers at London Trams when compared to similar roles at London Underground. They have claimed that staff on the Underground can earn up to £10,000 extra for the same work, with the fact that engineers on the trams are on office worker contracts not helping.

Strike action had been originally due to take place in March but this was suspended after the union said TfL had promised meaningful talks on the issue. But now there is claim and counterclaim as to just how serious these talks were.

Bruce Swann, Unite regional officer, said: “TfL is entirely responsible for the disruption that will be caused to passengers. If TfL had stuck to its word and engaged openly and honestly, the Tramlink engineers would not be forced to take strike action. TfL has left these issues to fester for years and the strikes will continue until it resolves them to our members’ satisfaction.”

Unite claim that TfL “reneged on the initial conditions of the talks, which was if pay disparities were identified a plan would be put in place to bring the impacted roles up to London Underground levels of pay.”

Its been said that TfL admitted five London Trams engineering roles have pay disparities and claims that other roles either don’t have these or are too negligible to be considered. Suffice to say Unite did not agree with this but claim that they’d have continued negotiations if TfL was transparent about the criteria it was using to arrive at these conclusions – and this had not happened.

For their part TfL said in a statement: “We would never enter conversations in bad faith and have been open and honest throughout the process.  We have agreed to work with union colleagues to identify equivalent roles in London Underground, assess any disparity in overall benefits packages, and where agreed take action where appropriate.

“This will take time and we have asked that this strike action be suspended to allow this to happen. We remain committed to continued dialogue to reach a conclusion and ask the union to suspend this action, which will only cause unnecessary inconvenience for our customers.”

The upshot of all this is that strike action will take place as from 2000 on Sunday 5th May which will mean throughout Monday 6th, Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th May trams will only run from 0700 to 1800 between Wimbledon and Reeves Corner and East Croydon to Beckenham Junction/New Addington.

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3 Responses to War of words erupts over London Trams strike action

  1. Andy says:

    Put the money DOWN on the underground to match the trams.
    That’s what I’d do.
    It’s absolutely bonkers to think that just because someone else gets x amount of pay for a job then you should get it too. You know what your pay rate is when you take ona job, you sign a contract and that’s that. Any increase should be a percentage of your original wage.
    They should stop whinging. If they strike, people will find other forms of transport. Then the trams will have no passengers and the system will close and they won’t have ANY pay.

  2. Kev says:

    How can you compare non like for like jobs? Underground is totally different. They should be comparing Tram systems not tram to underground!

    • Steve Hyde says:

      I agree with you in so far as the operating principles of the Underground are very different to those of a second generation tramway/light rail network. However the current dispute seems to centre on engineering staff and the skill sets of the two engineering teams are very similar so perhaps there are comparisons to be drawn.

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