Tram drivers entered their second day of strike action this morning with their union officials claiming that support for the industrial action had been solid, despite attempts by the operators’ management to intimidate staff on the picket lines.
The dispute is over pay, with ASLEF union members voting 99per cent in favour of strike action to demand better than the 3per cent offered, which the union says represents “a huge real-terms pay cut when the inflation rate is over 11per cent”.
The Croydon tram drivers’ strike is the latest is a series of industrial disputes as workers seek better pay and conditions in the context of the cost of living crisis, and following two years of low, or no, pay increases during covid. It follows last week’s industrial action on Network Rail and 13 train operators, plus a one-day strike by Tube drivers and this week’s action by criminal defence barristers, as the “Summer of Strikes” rolls on.
ASLEF is planning a second 48-hour strike on the Tramlink network if a negotiated settlement cannot be reached, with action planned for Wednesday July 13 and Thursday July 14.
Transport for London has said to expect further “severe disruption” to the tram service for today’s second day of strike action.
Tramlink is operated by TOL, Tram Operations Ltd, a FirstGroup company, on behalf of Transport for London.
Yesterday, dozens of drivers took part in picketing from the early hours of the morning. ASLEF claims that almost half the workforce were on the picket line, saying, “There was great support from passing motorists who hooted support, and from members of other unions who refused to cross the picket line.”
ASLEF executive committee member Terry Wilkinson, who joined the picket line, said, “Our members were magnificent today. Their solidarity and determination are an inspiritation”.
And according to other union officials, the strikers were not without some provocation from management.
At the weekend, ASLEF claims that management was forced to issue an apology over what they call “an attempt to intimidate a driver to break the strike”.
Yesterday, ASLEF says that “one senior manager threatened to call the police for no apparent reason, and then returned to rudely abuse the pickets”.
According to one striking driver, “If staff spoke to a manager, the way that senior manager spoke to us, we would be on a disciplinary. I guess their ‘respect’ policies don’t apply to them.”
Finn Brennan, ASLEF’s regional co-ordinator, told Inside Croydon, “The picketing on Tuesday showed the strength of feeling among our members.
“Management bad behaviour has only strengthened their determination to win a fair pair offer and be treated with respect at work.”
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