Tram drivers could strike for 24 hours after again shutting down Melbourne’s network in an escalating pay battle.
The city’s second four-hour tram strike in a fortnight on Thursday involved 200 tram workers rallying at Trades Hall to protest against the latest offer from Yarra Trams.
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union asked the Fair Work Commission at 9am for more strikes, and Yarra Trams says those include 24-hour stoppages.
“The only time we’ve got any movement out of the company, whether it be on conditions or whether it be on the wage offer, has been when we’ve taken industrial action,” union divisional secretary Phil Altieri told reporters on Thursday.
“We don’t want to be doing this, but the fact is it’s the only avenue we’ve got to gain some ground.”
Yarra Trams CEO Clement Michel said the union had asked for the ability to hold 24-hour strikes.
He told 3AW the company has created 200 jobs and had handed out pay increases worth 28 per cent over the past six years.
“(The current offer of) 13 per cent increase with no change in pay conditions is a very good offer,” he told 3AW.
Mr Michel said the deal would take shift work drivers from an average of $91,000 a year to more than $100,000 a year.
But Mr Altieri said only the top two per cent of drivers earned $91,000.
Yarra Trams’ website says drivers earn $65-75,000 after penalties.
Premier Daniel Andrews has criticised the union for hastily moving to strike action.
“I don’t think too many people in Melbourne and Victoria think it’s a good thing to talk one day, strike the next and be talking the day after that,” Mr Andrews said.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan says the strikes are unnecessary and disruptive.
“I think passengers have every right and reason to feel entirely frustrated and fed up,” she told reporters.
Taxi drivers also went on strike during the tram stoppage to protest government inaction over UberX.
Melbourne also faces more potential train strikes, with an agreement with Metro Trains still unsigned.