Sheffield Supertram workers hold 72-hour strike, as strike ballot in Manchester begins


Sheffield Supertram workers hold 72-hour strike, as strike ballot in Manchester begins

Laura Tiernan

23 July 2018

Stagecoach Supertram drivers and conductors in Sheffield, England began a 72-hour strike Friday, after rejecting the company’s offer of a miserly 26 pence an hour wage increase. The strike took place as a ballot for industrial action by Manchester MetroLink tram workers got underway, amid growing anger by drivers over substandard pay.

Striking Supertram workers at the Nunnery Square Depot

This shows that conditions exist for a unified fight by tram workers against the major transport corporations. But such a fight is only possible if workers break free from the grip of the Unite union, whose strategy consists of dividing workers on a company by company basis, isolating the present disputes and giving management a free hand to arrange strike-breaking.

The weekend’s strike in Sheffield was the third this month by Stagecoach Supertram drivers and conductors after a 91.7 percent strike vote in June. The hourly rate for Sheffield conductors is £9.40 an hour, and for drivers around £11.78 (equivalent to £18,000 for conductors and £23,000 for drivers). The workers are demanding a 50p an hour increase to deal with cost of living pressures.

If the current three-year pay offer from Stagecoach Supertram were to go through, wages would rise by 26p an hour in the first two years and by even less in the third year, reducing workers to minimum wage status.

Pressure on drivers and conductors has been building for years as Stagecoach—a FTSE 250-listed company and the second largest transport group in the UK—has sought to gouge increased profits from its workforce. Stagecoach Supertram passenger numbers have grown from 7.8 million in 1996 to 12.8 million in…

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