Tram drivers’ 100% vote for strike action in dispute over pay

Members of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, who work on Croydon’s Tramlink network have voted 100 per cent in favour of strike action over what they call “the failure of FirstGroup to make an acceptable pay offer”.

Lebanon Road tramsThere was a 82 per cent turn-out on the union’s ballot, well above the levels demanded of the Tory Government’s latest legislation to reduce workers’ rights to withdraw their labour.

If the drivers go ahead with industrial action, it would be the first strike on the trams for a decade.

FirstGroup operates the south London trams service under a concession with Transport for London. FirstGroup is the multi-national transport firm whose chief executive, Tim O’Toole, receives a a salary of more than £2 million a year. Last year, FirstGroup cut pension benefits for their staff, a move which has led to the possible tram strike.

Drivers are now having to pay up to £120 per month more out of their salaries into their pension fund, which is much more than the pay rise offered, leaving staff much worse of in real terms.

Tram drivers receive salaries of around £36,000, much less than that earned by Tube drivers or staff on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR).

Finn Brennan, ASLEF’s district organiser, said, “Tramlink is vital to the success of Croydon and surrounding areas. But the hard-working staff who deliver the service are seeing their standards of living fall while FirstGroup uses its profits to reward fat cat executives.

“This 100 per cent Yes vote on a turnout of 82 per cent is a huge mandate for strike action. It’s way beyond that required by the new anti-Trade Union law.”

The ASLEF executive will now decide on the next steps to take. “We are prepared to keep talking to resolve this dispute, but unless FirstGroup listens to this unanimous message from ASLEF members, then strike action may become inevitable,” Brennan said.

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