A strike by tram drivers this Thursday, March 28, has been described as ‘entirely avoidable’ by First Group which manages the network.

Last week, it was announced that nearly all members of the ASLEF union voted to go on strike. They say that they have not been offered good enough pay and working conditions.

And discussions with First Group to come up with a solution to avoid the strike have not been successful.

Finn Brennan, ASLEF’s District Organiser on Tramlink, said: “Our members showed their reaction to the company’s pay offer by returning a yes vote of 99.1% in favour of strike action, on a turnout of almost 90%.

“Management have not changed the offer. Despite six months of talks, management are not prepared to make an offer that recognises that our members do a difficult and stressful job and deserve to be properly rewarded.

“Staff on Tramlink have seen their pension benefits slashed and are paid much less than those in similar roles in other TfL modes. They want to see real improvements to reflect the responsible job they do.”

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But a spokesman for First Group which runs the tram network on behalf of TfL has described the union’s demands as ‘unsustainable’ and disputed that pensions have been reduced.

“We are disappointed that our passengers will face entirely avoidable disruption if this industrial action goes ahead, since we have made a reasonable, above-inflation pay offer to our employees and pension benefits have not been reduced,” said the spokesman.

“The trade union demand for a basic pay rise of 20% over three years is unsustainable and we urge the trade unions to work with us to achieve an outcome that addresses their position and enables us to keep providing the best possible service for customers.”

Of the 127 ASLEF members,  114 returned their votes with 113 voting in favour of strike action.

This means that ASLEF member will not work between 12.01am and 11.59 on Thursday, March 28.