Edinburgh trams: Trams strike called off after Union accepts 'reasonable' pay deal

A strike by tram workers that was due to go ahead during the Fringe festival has been called off after the Union accepted a ‘reasonable’ pay offer.

Unite said members ‘overwhelmingly’ accepted a pay rise of between 6.5 and 11 per cent equivalent, based on current staff pay grade.

The increase which will be backdated to April 1 was welcomed by union bosses who said it will ‘go some way’ to addressing cost of living pressures on staff, after reports that some were using foodbanks.

Edinburgh Trams bosses tabled the one-year deal with Unite following a ballot for strike action by fed-up workers who rejected two offers since a pay claim was submitted by the union in November 2021.

Tram workers were due to strike during Fringe 2022

With a one hundred per cent turnout the vast majority of members – 95 per cent – voted to accept the deal which Unite described as ‘reasonable’.

As part of the deal, company sick pay for tram workers will also be reviewed with proposals to increase to six months full pay for long-term and critical illness followed by six months’ half pay.

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Members previously rejected a ‘derisory’ offer of a one-off payment and further pay rise of four per cent next year.

A further offer of five per cent in 2021 and four per cent in 2023 was also rejected by the union who also argued it was ‘immoral’ bosses pocket bonuses while some couldn’t afford to put fuel in their car to get to work.

Managing director Lea Harrison was at the centre of the pay row after the Evening News revealed he was handed a 16 per cent increase on his £150,000 salary – plus a bonus of £16,000 on top.

Harrison was named last year as the recipient of Britain's biggest public sector bonus payment.

He received a bonus of £48,895 in the financial year 2019/20 after overseeing an increase in paying passengers before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lyn Turner, regional officer for Unite said: "This is a reasonable result for our members. We set out for a cost of living pay increase and this deal will go some way to addressing increased financial pressures. We are pleased to see Edinburgh Trams commit to a revised sick pay scheme. This will be a significant increase on current terms.

“Under this deal there’s also a commitment to reduce working hours from a 40 hour week to a 35 hour week for operational staff, once the Newhaven tram line is up and running.

"Getting this agreement took months plus a ballot for industrial action. But it’s a positive outcome for this year. We look forward to working with the company going forward.”

If the agreement is breached by the company within the next six months workers have a mandate to strike with two weeks notice.

Mr Harrison said: “I am pleased that the most recent talks have resulted in an agreement that is acceptable to all parties, and that our employees feel that they have arrived at a fair outcome.

“Following the successful conclusion of these negotiations, the Edinburgh Trams team is fully focused on working together to further improve our award-winning tram network as we prepare for the launch of services to Newhaven next year.”