Manchester could grind to a halt next month if members of Unite, the UK’s leading trade union employed by Metrolink, vote on strike in a pay dispute.
Tram drivers who remained on duty during the pandemic to ensure that Greater Manchester continued to function were offered a 0.3 percent pay increase from January to March 2020, followed by a 0.7 percent increase from April 2021 to April 2022 The increase over a 15 month period was labeled “ridiculous” and would result in a massive cut in wages for workers on real terms.
Unite has been negotiating wages with Metrolink since February, and with negotiations now exhausted, the union has no choice but to begin voting on strike actions.
The strike election begins on Thursday, August 26th and ends on Friday, September 10th. If workers vote to strike, strikes could start before the end of next month.
The union represents over 300 drivers and supervisors at Metrolink and industrial action would bring tram operations to a standstill, which has stations across the Greater Manchester area.
It is possible that strike actions could affect the Manchester half marathon as well as several high profile football matches that will take place this fall.
Left without an option
Unite Regional Representative Dave Roberts said: “Unite had no choice but to elect its members to strike after Metrolink refused to make an acceptable salary offer despite six months of talks.
“Our members have gone above and beyond to keep working throughout the pandemic and receive a ridiculous salary offer, a real deep pay cut, is unfortunate.
“If workers vote to strike, Greater Manchester will effectively grind to a halt, affecting both commuters and those wishing to attend sporting and recreational events.
“Our workers are reluctant to vote for industrial action as a last resort, but Metrolink could still avoid strikes by returning to negotiations and making a realistic salary offer.”