Bus bosses have been accused of waging ‘a propaganda war’ in the run-up to this weekend’s Tramlines music festival in Sheffield in the dispute over a ‘26 pence an hour’ pay offer for workers on the city’s supertram network.
About 200 drivers and conductors working on the 48-stop light rail tram system will stage a 72 hour strike from 01:00 tomorrow (Friday 20 July) which coincides with the three-day Tramlines event featuring headline act Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.
Unite said that South Yorkshire Supertram Ltd was using the festival to imply that the union was ruining the travel plans of thousands of music lovers.
But the union has hit back saying the bus bosses were conducting ‘a propaganda war’ against its members.
Unite said that it had tried to convene a meeting with management this week - following two days of recent strike action - in a bid to hold constructive talks, but to no avail.
Unite regional coordinating officer Steve Clark said: “The management is waging a nasty propaganda war against Unite members taking legitimate industrial action over a shoddy pay offer that amounts to a 26 pence an hour rise.
“The bosses at South Yorkshire Supertram have had plenty of time to come to the table to negotiate a fair settlement since the two days of strike action on 9 and 12 July, but have chosen not to.
“We have spent the last two days travelling the extra mile to convene a meeting with the company, but this has been met with a brick wall of managerial intransigence.
“The company could have sorted this well before the annual Tramlines festival. Instead, we understand it is marshalling buses from outside Sheffield with drivers who don’t know the routes in a bid to break this strike.
“The company usually makes a lot of extra money when Tramlines is held because of increased journeys to the Hillsborough Park venue.
But on this occasion, it has put aside money making opportunities for a bit of old fashioned union bashing.
“If our members accepted the firm’s derisory offer they would eventually, in the years ahead, be working for the national minimum wage.
“We will fight against this race to the bottom and continue to campaign for a proper wage rise for the hardworking drivers and conductors who are out in all weathers keeping the people of Sheffield on the move.
“I am sure that those attending the Tramlines festival will understand that this is a fight against a miserly pay offer – and may even offer gestures of solidarity to our members.”
The workers have overwhelmingly rejected the latest revised three-year pay offer from May 2018. Unite said that when the details were analysed it amounted to an increase of just 26p an hour and the union accused the management of ‘playing a game of smoke and mirrors’.
Unite members voted by 91 per cent for strike action and by 95 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.