Manchester Metrolink strikes, initially at weekends, over 1% pay rise offered

jfollows

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The BBC is reporting that tram drivers have voted, and 97% of the 300-plus drivers have voted for, strike action. Initially 25-26 September, subsequently 10 October and 24 October.

These dates apparently coincide with events in Manchester, but whether or not the dates have been chosen deliberately I don't know - just about any weekend would probably coincide with some "event" in or around Manchester.

The report is that the drivers were offered a 1% pay rise, which Unite describes as "pitiful". I tend to agree with this description, but presumably this has been done because there is no money available - so one outcome might be a hand-out to allow the pay rise to be increased in due course.

EDIT The BBC report is at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-58551233:
Metrolink strikes to hit Manchester sporting events

Tram drivers have voted to strike at weekends in a move expected to hit two major sporting events in Manchester.


The move comes after Metrolink drivers were offered a 1% pay rise, which trade union Unite described as "pitiful."

The first strike, on the weekend of 25-26 September, would coincide with The Great Manchester Run and a Manchester United home fixture.

Operator KeolisAmey Metrolink and Transport for Greater Manchester both called the vote "disappointing".

Ninety-seven percent of the 300-plus drivers and supervisors, who are members of Unite, voted to strike on the weekend when Manchester United play Aston Villa at Old Trafford on the Saturday.

Competitors and spectators for the Great Manchester Run the following day have been advised to use public transport due to extensive road closures in the city centre.

Further strikes are planned for 10 October, the day of the Manchester Marathon, and on 24 October when United play Liverpool at home.

Unite claims a 0.3% pay increase for the period from January to March followed by a 0.7% rise from April 2021 to April 2022 is a "pay cut in real terms" when set alongside inflation.

Regional officer Dave Roberts said: "Metrolink tram workers, who continued to work throughout the pandemic, are simply not going to accept a frankly pitiful pay deal."

The union's general secretary Sharon Graham said: "One minute tram drivers are being hailed as heroes and the next they are facing a real-terms pay cut."

A statement from KeolisAmey said the company was "disappointed" and would "continue to engage with Unite to work towards an agreement that prevents any strike action".

Transport for Greater Manchester's head of Metrolink Danny Vaughan said: "There is no good time for strike action, but the days picked will affect participants and spectators of two very significant and much-welcome events."
I observe that the latest Health and Social Care Levy of 1.25% from April 2022 amounts to a roughly 1% cut in take-home pay to anyone earning £50,000/year (it's levied on income starting from slightly less than £10,000). The £50,000 figure may be a bit high for a Metrolink driver, although perhaps with overtime and shift pay it isn't, but if not it means that the starting point of a 1% pay rise only reverses this additional levy, so any other inflationary effect will mean a pay cut in real terms.

EDIT If this is the opening gambit by TfGM to provoke a response, in the hope that this can be escalated to central government in the hope of a hand-out to fund a larger pay rise, then it occurs to me that the government has form for attaching conditions to this sort of money. So essentially it's good to have local democracy, Andy Burnham and all, but his freedom of action will be curtailed by the people holding the purse-strings in Whitehall. What sort of conditions could be imposed on him in order to get more money I wonder?
 
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507 001

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I will say this, if any Metrolink drivers are bringing in £50000 I’ll eat my hat.
 
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Wolfie

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The BBC is reporting that tram drivers have voted, and 97% of the 300-plus drivers have voted for, strike action. Initially 25-26 September, subsequently 10 October and 24 October.

These dates apparently coincide with events in Manchester, but whether or not the dates have been chosen deliberately I don't know - just about any weekend would probably coincide with some "event" in or around Manchester.

The report is that the drivers were offered a 1% pay rise, which Unite describes as "pitiful". I tend to agree with this description, but presumably this has been done because there is no money available - so one outcome might be a hand-out to allow the pay rise to be increased in due course.

EDIT The BBC report is at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-58551233:

I observe that the latest Health and Social Care Levy of 1.25% from April 2022 amounts to a roughly 1% cut in take-home pay to anyone earning £50,000/year (it's levied on income starting from slightly less than £10,000). The £50,000 figure may be a bit high for a Metrolink driver, although perhaps with overtime and shift pay it isn't, but if not it means that the starting point of a 1% pay rise only reverses this additional levy, so any other inflationary effect will mean a pay cut in real terms.

EDIT If this is the opening gambit by TfGM to provoke a response, in the hope that this can be escalated to central government in the hope of a hand-out to fund a larger pay rise, then it occurs to me that the government has form for attaching conditions to this sort of money. So essentially it's good to have local democracy, Andy Burnham and all, but his freedom of action will be curtailed by the people holding the purse-strings in Whitehall. What sort of conditions could be imposed on him in order to get more money I wonder?
Most of the public sector are getting no payrise but still have to pay the NI rises. The chances of HMT providing more money to give Metrolink drivers a bigger payrise ranges from zero to less than zero.
 

J-2739

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Called off now for the 25th and 26th:

Planned industrial action called off this weekend​

The Metrolink operator, KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM) and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has issued the following statements following confirmation from Unite that they will now ballot members on a revised pay offer.
Guillaume Chanussot, Managing Director at operator KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM), said: “I am pleased that we have been able to reach agreement with Unite on an improved offer for our Driver workforce which enables them to suspend their planned industrial action on 25th and 26th September.
“Unite will now recommend this offer to their members and we await the outcome of their consultation exercise.”
TfGM’s Head of Metrolink Danny Vaughan, said: “Following constructive discussions between Unite and the Metrolink operator, this weekend’s proposed industrial action has been called off – which is great news for all our customers.
“A revised pay offer will now be put to members and a further update will be issued once that has been done.
“We’ll now be able to concentrate on providing a normal service to support the various major events taking place this weekend and all those who rely on Metrolink to get around. If travelling with us, please still plan ahead and allow extra time because we expect it to be much busier than usual.”
 

jfollows

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Thank you for the update; at the moment all parties are being rather coy about a "greatly improved pay offer" (Unite) so I'm going to be interested to see what this is. Given the level of support for the strikes, and that Unite is now recommending acceptance of the new offer, it sounds like it has some substance and improvement over the original 1% over 15 months initially offered.
 

jfollows

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Whatever the offer was, and I've not read anything, Unite has now decided that it's a poor offer, and a strike is now planned for 10 October, 15/10, 18/10 and 24/10. I can only guess that the offer made verbally during original negotiations was interpreted differently by Unite than the offer which ended up being written down on paper and made formally. I have no knowledge of this, it's a complete guess on my part, except to note that nothing of any sort appeared in writing about what the "greatly improved pay offer" in fact was on or after 21 September (see earlier posts).
See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-58768171:
A union has reversed its decision to call off tram driver strikes in Manchester after pay talks broke down.
The Unite union suspended industrial action on the Metrolink, planned for Saturday and Sunday, 10 days ago.
But it said a fresh strike was now planned for 10 October, the day of the Manchester Marathon, and described the pay offer as poor.
Keolis/Amey said it was disappointed with Unite and had put "robust contingency plans in place".
Last week, the union said it would be recommending its members accept what it described as a "greatly improved pay offer".
However, it changed its mind after further talks with bosses and said negociations "broke up when the contractor Keolis/Amey refused to improve" its offer.
Regional officer Dave Roberts said: "The tram contractor, Keolis/Amey, can avoid disruption to the Manchester Marathon and our city's other big sporting events by tabling a respectful and decent pay offer."
Unite has also announced strikes for Friday 15 October and Monday 18 October, and a further strike on Sunday 24 October, when Manchester United will play Liverpool at Old Trafford.
About 300 tram drivers and supervisors had originally been offered a 1% pay rise over 15 months.
Guillaume Chanussot, managing director at Keolis/Amey Metrolink, said: "I'm disappointed that Unite have returned to talks only to demand yet another increase to the already greatly improved, inflation-protected offer we made on Monday 20 September.
"This offer was being recommended for acceptance by Unite to their members only a few days ago.
"I still hope that we can reach a resolution which avoids damaging strike action."
"Our focus now shifts to doing all we can to put robust contingency plans in place to ensure as many customers as possible can continue to make their journeys in the event of strike action."
 

WatcherZero

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Shades of Doublethink from Unite there.
They agreed a new deal 20th Sep and put it to their members 21st Sep with a recommendation to accept the "greatly improved deal" but then came back on the 30th to ask for more.

Your right neither side have said what the improved deal was other than Keolis-Amey saying the revised offer was inflation linked.
 
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507 001

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Shades of Doublethink from Unite there.
They agreed a new deal 20th Sep and put it to their members 21st Sep with a recommendation to accept the "greatly improved deal" but then came back on the 30th to ask for more.

Your right neither side have said what the improved deal was other than Keolis-Amey saying the revised offer was inflation linked.

Unite did recommend the deal. The membership voted against it as it was still below inflation for this year.
 

Mothball

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TfGM have announced the expected service levels for Sundays strike

With industrial action taking place on the day, Metrolink services will be operating a reduced service which will only run between 7am and 7pm.

Services will operate:

  • Altrincham to Piccadilly every six minutes.
  • The Trafford Centre to Victoria (via Cornbrook) every 12 minutes.
No other Metrolink services will operate and, due to availability, there will be no bus replacement service.

If you're not taking part or watching the race, the quietest times to travel on Metrolink will be between 12pm and 3pm.

Ticket acceptance will also be in place on the following commercial bus services: 19, 23, 33, 50, 59, 98, 101, 103, 135, 142, 182, 216, 217.
Hopefully KAM see some sense before then to sort this out, if not then good luck to the drivers!
 

507 001

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The strike action planned for this weekend has been suspended pending a ballot.
 

jfollows

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The BBC now reporting that a pay deal has been agreed, "a two-year pay deal backdated to January with a further increase in January 2022" which is rather vague on details: (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-58914673):

Manchester Metrolink tram strike cancelled after pay deal agreed​

A planned strike by tram drivers in Manchester on Friday has been cancelled following an improved pay offer for more than 300 drivers and supervisors.
Workers' union Unite accepted a two-year pay deal backdated to January with a further increase in January 2022.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said it was a "resounding victory" in a fight for "a decent pay rise".
Metrolink has been approached for comment, but has previously said it was "delighted" as strikes were called off.
An earlier strike, which was due to have occurred to coincide with the Manchester marathon on Sunday, was suspended following the proposed pay offer.
By accepting the pay deal the next scheduled strike, which was due to have taken place on Friday, and all subsequent industrial action has been cancelled, the union said.
How much better this pay deal is than the one offered a month ago remains unclear. That was quoted as "a 0.3% pay increase for the period from January to March followed by a 0.7% rise from April 2021 to April 2022" by the BBC on 13th. September (see first post).

EDIT Other sources (https://planetradio.co.uk/hits-radio/manchester/news/metrolink-strikes-officially-called-off/) (and presumably others) state "a two year pay deal which is worth three per cent backdated to January 2021 and a further three per cent or the RPI inflation rate, whichever is the higher, from January 2022". That's an order of magnitude different to the original offer, if I read this correctly. Where did the extra money suddenly come from to enable this change? This revised offer is going to mean a wages cost at least 5.1% greater than the original one by April 2022.

EDIT Oh, and https://assets.publishing.service.g...nt_data/file/1013260/Forecast_August_2021.pdf notes that the average forecast made in early August 2021 for RPI at the end of 2021 is of 4.3%. If this applies to the pay deal, then on top of the 3% back-dated to January 2021 this is a little over 7.4% in aggregate. So a good deal for the Metrolink staff it would appear, even if I was originally over-enthusiastic about their rates of pay.
 
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Wolfie

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The BBC now reporting that a pay deal has been agreed, "a two-year pay deal backdated to January with a further increase in January 2022" which is rather vague on details: (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-58914673):

How much better this pay deal is than the one offered a month ago remains unclear. That was quoted as "a 0.3% pay increase for the period from January to March followed by a 0.7% rise from April 2021 to April 2022" by the BBC on 13th. September (see first post).

EDIT Other sources (https://planetradio.co.uk/hits-radio/manchester/news/metrolink-strikes-officially-called-off/) (and presumably others) state "a two year pay deal which is worth three per cent backdated to January 2021 and a further three per cent or the RPI inflation rate, whichever is the higher, from January 2022". That's an order of magnitude different to the original offer, if I read this correctly. Where did the extra money suddenly come from to enable this change? This revised offer is going to mean a wages cost at least 5.1% greater than the original one by April 2022.

EDIT Oh, and https://assets.publishing.service.g...nt_data/file/1013260/Forecast_August_2021.pdf notes that the average forecast made in early August 2021 for RPI at the end of 2021 is of 4.3%. If this applies to the pay deal, then on top of the 3% back-dated to January 2021 this is a little over 7.4% in aggregate. So a good deal for the Metrolink staff it would appear, even if I was originally over-enthusiastic about their rates of pay.
Expect fare rises.
 

jfollows

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Expect fare rises.
That's entirely reasonable, I agree.
I have now found a Manchester Evening News article dated 6 October in which it's stated that an offer of slightly less than 3%+3%/RPI was made: (https://www.manchestereveningnews.c...olink-strike-manchester-marathon-pay-21772844)
However, KAM have said after a return to discussions they had offered an improved offer of a minimum of five per cent two-year pay award, with a 2.4pc boost in the first year and a 2.6pc increase in the second.
This was rejected:
Unite bosses have confirmed they did recommend this renewed offer, with strike plans temporarily suspended while members mulled it over.

However, it's understood drivers remain angry about the initial offer of 1pc over 15 months, and the 11th hour review of what they can afford to pay their workforce has not been enough to deter them from strike action.
It all looks very messy. I don't think that there will be much good feeling between "management" and "workers" following this, if there ever was.
And this is going to be symptomatic of many aspects of the economy in the next few months I fear - inflation is going to rise significantly in my view and peoples' living standards are going to decline significantly as a result. Metrolink fare rises at >RPI will contribute to this.
 

Wolfie

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That's entirely reasonable, I agree.
I have now found a Manchester Evening News article dated 6 October in which it's stated that an offer of slightly less than 3%+3%/RPI was made: (https://www.manchestereveningnews.c...olink-strike-manchester-marathon-pay-21772844)

This was rejected:

It all looks very messy. I don't think that there will be much good feeling between "management" and "workers" following this, if there ever was.
And this is going to be symptomatic of many aspects of the economy in the next few months I fear - inflation is going to rise significantly in my view and peoples' living standards are going to decline significantly as a result. Metrolink fare rises at >RPI will contribute to this.
There is zero chance that HMG will fund any of that rise.
 
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507 001

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Expect fare rises.

There is zero chance that HMG will fund any of that rise.

According to the company it is affordable.

And as for fare rises, TfGM set the fares and receive all takings from said fares. The company have nothing to do with it so can’t raise fares to cover wage increases. Part of the companies contract with TfGM is a management fee uplift equal to RPI each year, that’s the only way they can get more money out of TfGM.
 

jfollows

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According to the company it is affordable.

And as for fare rises, TfGM set the fares and receive all takings from said fares. The company have nothing to do with it so can’t raise fares to cover wage increases. Part of the companies contract with TfGM is a management fee uplift equal to RPI each year, that’s the only way they can get more money out of TfGM.
That's good intelligence, thank you.

The thought that it provokes with me is this: if KAM can afford maybe +7.4% by 2022, why did it originally offer +1% for the same time period? Because it thought it could get away with it? Because it thought that its employees would go for it, even though it would leave them worse off by most calculations?

It just sounds like a company eager to maximise its profits at the expense of its employees. I certainly don't know all the facts, so this is definitely my opinion, but it does not read well with me. I know that if I were an employer I would not treat my employees this way.

EDIT Put it another way, I just feel that there's something unpleasant missing from the public narrative here, that may be a totally unwarranted and unfounded feeling on my part, I may be reading too much into this that isn't justified. I guess time will tell, as it usually does.
 
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