Sheffield Supertram staff back strike action over pay
Last-ditch talks are planned to prevent Sheffield's tram drivers and conductors walking out in a dispute over pay.
Stagecoach Supertram staff voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action after rejecting the offer of a 26p-an-hour rise both this year and next.
Representatives from the union Unite are due to sit down with Supertram bosses on Monday, July 2 in an attempt to reach a settlement and avert strikes.
More than 200 drivers and conductors - which Unite said represented the vast majority of those working on the city's trams - took part in the ballot, with 91.7 per cent backing strike action and 95.8 per cent in favour of industrial action short of a strike. The turnout was over 83 per cent.
Unite claimed the pay offer represented a rise of between 2.2 and 2.4 per cent, with conductors currently earning on average Â£9.40 an hour and drivers getting slightly more.
But Supertram said the offer represented a 2.8 per cent rise in year one and 2.7 per cent in year two for conductors, and 2.2 per cent each year for drivers, who are currently paid Â£11.78 an hour.
Unite regional officer Steve Clark said: "The massive vote in favour of industrial action should be a wake-up call to Stagecoach bosses running Sheffield's Supertram.
"With inflation eating into wages the current pay offer falls short of the aspirations of our members who work hard to keep Sheffield on the move. Bosses should be under no illusion. Industrial action is a last resort, but our members are prepared to take it to achieve a fair pay rise.
"We would urge the company to seize the opportunity of last ditch talks next week and table a revised offer that better reflects the important contribution Sheffield’s Supertram drivers and conductors make to the smooth running of the city's transport system."
Unite said no date had been set for potential strike action, and two weeks notice would have to be given should no deal materialise.
A Supertram spokeswoman said: "We are extremely disappointed at the result of the union ballot. We made a very fair offer to our employees, however the union was demanding an unrealistic settlement which is more than double the average pay increase across the UK economy. "Nothing will be gained by strike action, which would have a negative impact on local people and the economy in Sheffield, as well as weakening the Supertram business and reducing the money available for pay awards.
"Supertram will not be profitable during the current rail replacement works and costs need to be maintained at a level that will support the future wellbeing of the business for everyone.“We remain open to further discussions with the union and would urge them to sit down with us to talk through realistic solutions."