Sheffield Supertram workers walk out on strike after 'insulting' pay offer

Members of Unite the Union on the picket line at Stagecoach Supertram's Nunnery Depot. Picture: Sam Cooper/The Star.
Members of Unite the Union on the picket line at Stagecoach Supertram's Nunnery Depot. Picture: Sam Cooper/The Star.
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Supertram staff who have walked out on strike causing disruption for Sheffield commuters say a 26p-an-hour pay offer is 'insulting'.

Around 200 drivers and conductors are staging a 24-hour strike today, which will be repeated on Thursday, if a solution cannot be found.

Phil Bown, regional officer for Unite the Union, said the action comes after workers rejected a three-year pay offer, which he claimed equated to around 2.3 per cent.

He said: "Supertram used to be a premium service but at the moment, with this management, they have got in, it seems they don't want to listen and we try and contact the company and all they want to do is have a battle in the press.

"If they put that much energy into trying to solve the dispute we might not be stood here today. "

Around a dozen people stood on the picket line at Stagecoach Supertram's Nunnery Depot on Woodbourn Road, Sheffield, on Monday morning, with plenty of support from passing drivers.

He added: "I apologise to members of the public for disruption. This is a last resort for any union, in particular ours but the pay offer is one that borders insulting.

"Our claim is for 50p-an-hour, which is because of the cost of living. There is money there to solve this issue. Stagecoach are a multi-million pound operator.

"Supertram has been running sine 1994 and we've never had a dispute like this. Its workers are very loyal, they come here and stay here and are being treated like rubbish."

Mr Bown also claimed that Supertram had paid bus drivers from other parts of the country to come to Sheffield and run replacement bus services, which will run between 7am and 7pm.

Thursday's strike will once again see staff walk out from 1am and a further 72-hour strike is planned for July 20-22, the weekend of the Tramlines festival, if the dispute is not resolved before then.

Mr Bown said: "We remain open for talks and if the company want to sit and talk, we will speak to them at any time and anywhere. There is a possibility that this dispute can be sorted but that's up to the company."

Tim Bilby, managing director of Supertram, said a three-year pay offer was made to staff last Monday, which included a reduction in the contracted weekly hours.

He added: "We have provided a very healthy pay deal, which is higher than the average pay settlement in the UK economy today, during a period in which we are not making profit due to the effects of rail replacement work.

"We have been very clear from the beginning that strike action would result in us incurring costs which in turn would reduce the money available to fund the pay deal and we would have no option but to withdraw the current offer if any strike action went ahead."