Croydon’s tram drivers will be on strike, next Thursday, March 28.
ASLEF, the union which represents the majority of tram drivers, announced the strike action last night, after talks broke down at the arbitration service, ACAS, over a long-running dispute with FirstTram Operations, who operate the Croydon Tram system, because of cuts imposed on the staff’s pensions.
“Our members showed their reaction to the company’s pay offer by returning a ‘Yes’ vote of 99.1 per cent in favour of strike action, on a turn out of almost 90 per cent,” said Finn Brennan, the ASLEF district organiser.
“Management have not changed their offer.
“Despite six months of talks, management are not prepared to make an offer that recognises that our members do a difficult and stressful job and deserves to be properly rewarded.
“Staff on Tramlink have seen their pension benefits slashed and are paid much less than those in similar roles in other Transport for London modes. They want to see real improvements to reflect the responsible job that they do.”
Mario Creatura, the political whizzkid behind Theresa May’s Twitter account, and the wannabe Tory MP for Croydon Central, jumped in to condemn the strike action, saying that while 113 ASLEF members voted to strike, “80,000 people per day use the tram service. They’ll be affected as a result.”
Creatura sought to shame the hard-working tram drivers by delving into the politics of envy: “They earn £40,000pa for 36 hours work per week.”
This from someone who trousers almost £100,000 per year of public cash for doing a bit of Twittering.
As a Downing Street Special Adviser (ha!), Creatura gets paid around £80,000 out of tax-payers’ money. It’s unlikely that he works as many as 36 hours every week. On top of that, as a Conservative councillor for Coulsdon Town, and the Tory chief whip at Croydon Town Hall, Creatura pockets another £18,000 per year for doing… well, nothing of much public use, beyond promoting his own political career.
As far as Brennan is concerned, tram passengers next week are really being inconvenienced by just one man, the appropriately named Tim O’Toole, the American businesssman who is FirstGroup’s chief executive.
“The chief executive of FirstGroup, who manage the tram system, is on a salary of £635,000 plus a 15 per cent pension contribution and an annual bonus of 150 per cent,” Brennan said.
“ASLEF union members have had their pension benefits slashed.”
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Not a hint of electioneering going on from Creatura here is there? Wonder what his colleague, mentor and all around political genius Gavin Barwell has informed him about what that decisive leader who provides nothing but strength and stability is about to do?