Tram drivers to go on strike during Australian Open

Yarra Trams services will be disrupted during off peak hours on Tuesday, January 28, and Thursday, January 30.

The Victorian Branch of the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) announced the strikes in response to negotiations over part-time work caps.

Yarra Trams has proposed to increase the cap on part-time work from 4 per cent to 15 per cent, however the RTBU argued that an increase in the cap would allow for more part-time workers doing shorter shifts, reducing the terms and conditions of the current workforce.

“Essentially, Yarra Trams is asking its workers to accept their take home pay being slashed. It’s no wonder that employees are overwhelming against these proposals. Yarra Trams has twice put its part-time proposal out to a vote of employees and both times it was rejected – by 97 per cent and 94 per cent respectively,” said branch secretary, Luba Grigorovitch.

A spokesperson for Yarra Trams countered that the company has offered significant pay rises.

“We’ve already offered 12 per cent wage increases and many other improvements to working conditions, as well as seeking to offer people part-time work.”

The strikes will coincide with the Australian Open, and Yarra Trams is proposing to run bus services as an alternative.

“We are working with the Department of Transport and the Australian Open to reduce the impact as best we can and will keep passengers informed,” said the Yarra Trams spokesperson.

“The RTBU regrets that these two stoppages will coincide with the Australian Open. However, we have no other option but to exercise the only effective industrial rights workers have,” said Grigorovitch.

The RTBU called on the Victorian government to take action.

“It is well past time that the State Government and Transport Minister, Melissa Horne, stop sitting on their hands and do something,” said Grigorovitch.

The Yarra Trams spokesperson noted that negotiations would continue.

“We are committed to continuing negotiations to find a mutually beneficial outcome.”