For the past few months the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) and its members have been deep in strained negotiations with Metro Trains and Yarra Trams to come up with a new enterprise agreement for workers. In August, failure to reach an agreement led to rounds of strikes, which affected Melbourne’s public transport network. It’s now been confirmed industrial action will continue in September and October.

Melbourne tram workers will walk off the job on September 26 and October 10 between 10am and 2pm. Similar action took place on August 30 when staff stood down for four hours.

“Yarra Trams has twice put proposed agreements out to a vote of its employees and both times it has been overwhelmingly rejected,” said RTBU secretary Luba Grigorovitch in a statement.

“Yarra Trams employees have no choice but to take industrial action in the hope that the French multinational [Keolis Downer, which operates the current Yarra Trams franchise] comes to its senses and offers a reasonable deal.”

The RTBU is asking for a six per cent annual pay rise over three years, but Yarra Trams is offering a three per cent annual pay rise over four years. The RTBU is also unhappy with plans to increase the number of part-time employees in Yarra Tram’s workforce.

“Yarra Trams says its new part-time plans will lead to diversity and inclusivity but the actual shifts and rosters proposed are completely unsuitable for workers with child care and caring responsibilities,” said Grigorovitch.

“This industrial action, like the previous, is unnecessary and unproductive when we are still committed to continue conversations,” said Yarra Trams CEO Nicolas Gindt in a statement.

Yarra Trams is looking to replace services affected by the strike with a reduced timetable of busses to connect passengers with alternative transport.

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