Edinburgh tram strikes: Workers 'standing ready' for strike action which could carry on into New Year
Unite served Edinburgh trams with strike action notice on 2 November after bosses from the company reneged on a sick pay element of a signed pay deal in July. An agreement was struck with the union on pay which has been implemented but the terms of the sick pay are not going ahead as agreed, sparking fury among workers who are now ‘ready for strike’ action next week.
Ten days of strike action will kick off on Thursday 17, hitting the capital during the Scottish Rugby Union Autumn Test series as well as the start of Christmas activities.
But the union has warned workers are prepared for a second round of strike action which would likely take place over Christmas and into the New Year.
Edinburgh Edinburgh Trams committed to review sick pay with a view to increasing it to six months full pay and then six months half pay for staff who are off sick for a long time. This was set out in the signed agreement in July. But they have since told workers the improvements to sick pay are ‘unaffordable’ for the network as it continued to recover from the impact of the pandemic.
Lyn Turner, regional officer said: "We entered into an agreement in good faith and we have now been informed that we can speak to them next year when we have further negotiations for 2023 to see if they can introduce improved sick pay then. It’s a municipal tram company. Lothian Buses pay six months full pay, six months half pay. We are asking for Edinburgh Trams to support its employees at genuine times of longterm sickness.”
“They’ve claimed publicly they are open to further negotiations but direct communication doesn't set out any alternatives. They’ve suggested we are being unreasonable for asking them to stick to the deal. This part of the deal wasn't an issue at the time. And they knew they were up against it as we had balloted our members for industrial action.
"Now they are only offering an extra two weeks on the current sick pay. Our members have had enough. If they can’t honour the deal then they need to at least be transparent about why, admit they made a mistake and offer an alternative. It’s time to do the fair and reasonable thing by our workers.”
Mr Turner claimed the company has been dismissive, after stating they will now review it again until next pay negotiations in 2023. The negotiation over the signed pay deal was conducted by George Lowder CEO of Transport for Edinburgh.
Unite has now called again for the company to sit down with them and review the sick pay arrangements. Mr Turner added: “They don’t seem truly committed to resolving this dispute. Our position here is clear. Members will get strike pay of £70 a day so they won’t be starved back to work. I hope that Edinburgh Trams will admit they have not honoured the signed deal and come forward with a fair alternative.
“I have suggested an insurance company to them. But they’ve yet to pick up the phone for a proper discussion or just sit down and review this with us. We stand ready for strike action.”
Edinburgh trams has been contacted for comment.