Manchester is facing grinding to a standstill next month as workers on the city’s tram system, Metrolink, are set to begin balloting for strike action following a woeful pay offer.

Woeful offer

The 600 plus members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, are angry after Metrolink was only prepared to make a pay offer of a five per cent increase for a 15 month period, with the company trying to move the annual pay anniversary date (when pay rates are due to increase) from 1 January to 1 April. With the current real inflation rate (RPI) standing at 13.5 per cent this is a very significant real terms pay cut.

The ballot opens tomorrow (Thursday 11 May) and closes on Thursday 25 May. If the workers vote for industrial action then strikes could potentially begin as early as next month, with the Manchester Parklife festival (June 10, 11) possibly being heavily affected.

Incredibly wealthy company

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Metrolink are guilty of making a woeful offer to our members. This is a company operated by two incredibly wealthy multinationals who can fully afford to make a fair pay offer but have chosen not to.

 “Unite is entirely focussed on the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and the workers at Metrolink will receive the union’s complete support.”

Low pay rates

Starting pay rates at Metrolink are very low, customer service relations (inspectors) have a starting salary of just £20,000, drivers salaries begin at £22,000 and engineers start at £26,000.

Metrolink is operated and maintained by a joint venture company Keolis/Amey which holds the contract to run the Transport for Greater Manchester-owned service.

Metrolink failure 

Unite regional officer Colin Hayden said: “Metrolink has been given every chance to make a fair offer but has stubbornly refused to do so. As a result our members are now balloting for strike action.

Notes to editors

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.