ASLEF, the drivers’ union, has agreed to suspend this week’s tram strikes after a breakthrough in talks with FirstGroup management over the weekend at the conciliation service ACAS.
The strike was due to take place on Croydon Tramlink on Wednesday and Thursday this week. ASLEF suspended its last one-day strike action, too, because of progress in the long-running talks.
The union has announced that a new offer from FirstGroup – who operate the tram network on behalf of Transport for London – will give drivers an above-inflation pay rise and an additional 13 rest days each year.
An additional 10 drivers will be recruited to allow for the shorter working hours.
The latter change in working conditions is in response in part to growing evidence that driver fatigue contributed to the Sandilands tram crash in November 2016, in which seven people died and 62 others suffered serious injury.
“An additional 13 rest days, giving the equivalent of the 35-hour week that is now standard on the railway, means members will have quality time off with much-improved rosters,” the union said.
Under the management offer being considered by the union, the reduction in working hours will not be implemented until 2021.
Finn Brennan, the ASLEF official for the tram network, said, “This significant improvement on the previous proposal has been brought about by the strength and solidarity of our members on Tramlink. They have had two rock-solid days of strike action with more than 50 members taking part in picketing.”
According to the union, the management’s proposal is the biggest improvement in working conditions since the Croydon tram network opened nearly 20 years ago.
The drivers’ salaries will increase by a minimum of 9.9 per cent over the three-year period with a guaranteed link to the RPI rate of inflation.
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