Union ‘outraged' at pay rise of £25,000 for Edinburgh Trams boss as staff pay row rages on

Edinburgh Trams boss Lea Harrison is at the centre of another pay row after being handed a 16 per cent increase on his £150,000 salary – plus a bonus of £16,000 on top.

Union leaders called the pay deal ‘appalling’ at a time when it says some of tram staff are forced to use food banks due to low pay. Tram workers are being balloted on industrial action over pay that could see workers strike during the Fringe.

Mr Harrison saw his salary rise from £150,000 to £175,000 for the year ending in April, 2022, with a £16,000 bonus on top. Ticket sales assistants on the

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trams earns £20,000 a year, less than £10 an hour, and have rejected a pay offer of a 5% increase this year and a further rise of 4% in 2023.

Lea HarrisonLea Harrison
Lea Harrison

Council leader Cammy Day branded the bonus ‘disappointing’ and said it showed why the city’s transport company needed to be reformed.

Managing director Mr 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 a dramatic increase in paying passengers before the Covid-19 pandemic.

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He was awarded no bonus in 2020/2021, but did recieve £16,000 on top of his salary in ‘other’ benefits.

Lyn Turner, Regional Officer for Unite said: “It is appalling and very concerning to see that Mr Harrison received a basic pay rise of sixteen per cent, while we are in discussions over pay. Staff get peanuts.

"Some are on less than £10 an hour and rely on foodbanks while others struggle to afford fuel to drive to work. Yet the boss got a pay rise and a cherry on top as well, with another bonus after the ‘other benefits’ bonus he got last year. What exactly is the criteria for awarding a bonus here?

"Tram staff worked hard throughout the pandemic.”

Edinburgh City Council Chief Executive Andrew Kerr total remuneration was £180,000 an increase of £1000 on last year.

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Council leader Cammy Day said: “The managing director of Edinburgh Trams is already paid extremely well so I was very surprised and disappointed to learn of this additional payment. We should not be paying bonuses to senior executives under any circumstances and I made my position on this abundantly clear to the Board of Edinburgh Trams at an emergency meeting I called with them yesterday.

"The Transport Convener attended this as well and we were both assured this will not happen again. I believe this is an example of why we need transport company reforms.”

A spokesman for Edinburgh Trams commented: “Previous pay increases for members of the Executive team have reflected the additional workload and responsibilities resulting from the organisation becoming a Maintainer, as well as an Operator of the city's existing tramway, plus the Trams to Newhaven project.

“Any changes to remuneration packages, and any additional incentivisation payments, are in line with contractual obligations agreed by the company’s Board of Directors.”

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