Tram drivers declare 24 hour strike

Adelaide trams will not run at all next Tuesday after drivers rejected the latest pay offer from Torrens Connect.

Sep 07, 2023, updated Sep 07, 2023
Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Tram drivers have escalated industrial action in their efforts to secure improved pay and working conditions from private operator Torrens Connect, and will then turn off ticket validators when services resume on Wednesday.

The “unprecedented step” of stopping work for a full 24 hours follows an “improved” offer from Torrens Connect received by drivers earlier this week which meant planned industrial action for yesterday was called off.

It also follows three previous work stops over the past four weeks, which led to disruption of services for commuters.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) SA/NT secretary Darren Phillips said workers met on Wednesday and decided to escalate the situation.

“Tram workers suspended their industrial action in good faith, however they are disappointed that Torrens Connect’s latest offer is still well short of their demand for a pay rise that reflects the increasing cost of living,” Phillips said.

“The fact is that these workers are on a relatively low base pay rate of $67,000 a year, and inflation has been eroding the value of their pay year after year.

“They are fed up, and they do not want to keep going backwards. A 24-hour stoppage is a serious action for our members to take, and they understand the disruption that it will cause to travellers.”

Drivers are demanding a three-year enterprise agreement, a 3 per cent wage increase per year or the consumer price index (whichever is greater), the removal of split-shift provisions from the enterprise agreement to reduce fatigue, and better training with a Certificate 3 Light Rail Operations for all operators.

When services resume on Wednesday, tram riders will be unable to tap on or off and will instead ride for free as drivers will not turn on the ticket validators.

He said tram drivers feel they have “no other alternative left” than to “ramp up industrial action”.

“Workers wanted to give travellers as much notice as possible so they can have time to make alternative travel plans for next Tuesday,” Phillips said.

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“Of course, the industrial action could still be avoided if Torrens Connect responds quickly with a revised pay offer.”

Torrens Connect said it was “disappointed that the RTBU has chosen to once again take Protected Industrial Action, impacting a day’s travel for Adelaide’s commuting public”.

“This is particularly concerning considering the positive strides we have made towards a mutually beneficial agreement. We remain actively engaged with the RTBU, attempting to best understand our drivers’ needs and concerns,” the company said.

“Our commitment to our staff is unwavering, and we are dedicated to achieving a positive outcome for all.”

Topics: tram strike
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