Train drivers who operate Croydon’s Tramlink system will be on strike over pay and conditions for two days next week.
The strike will begin on Wednesday, June 15, with drivers not returning to work until after midnight on Friday, June 17.
The decision was confirmed following a meeting of the ASLEF executive committee this morning, with one union official accusing FirstGroup, the multi-national operators of Tramlink, of “milking its staff to increase its profits”.
The strike is only the second time that the tram network, which runs from Beckenham to Wimbledon, has been subject to industrial action in the 16 years since it opened.
Members of ASLEF voted 100 per cent in favour of strike action over what they call “the failure of FirstGroup to make an acceptable pay offer”.
There 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. Given that turnout and the unanimous vote in favour of strike action, it is reasonable to expect that the tram network will face a complete shutdown next week.
Multi-national transport firm FirstGroup operates the south London trams service under a concession with Transport for London.
Last year, FirstGroup cut pension benefits for their staff. 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.
“Tramlink staff work hard to deliver a service that is crucial to the economy of Croydon and the wider south London area it serves. But it is clear that their employer simply does not value them. As the cost of living, and especially housing costs in London, continue to rocket, their living standards have declined,” Finn Brennan, the ASLEF district organiser, told Inside Croydon.
“The current pay offer of 2.6 per cent doesn’t make up for the cuts FirstGroup has made to pensions and means staff will continue to earn much less than they deserve.
“ASLEF have asked the company to make a much improved offer to avoid this dispute but they haven’t even been prepared to meet us since our members voted for action. FirstGroup have left us with no other option than to take strike action,” Brennan said.
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