Melbourne tram workers take action for pay

Benita Kolovos
Melbourne tram drivers will undertake a series of work bans in an effort to improve conditions

Melbourne's tram drivers will refuse to work overtime as they ramp up their fight for better pay and conditions.

From August 26, Yarra Trams staff won't do voluntary overtime, cover shifts on days off or wear uniforms, the Victorian Rail, Tram and Bus Union has announced.

"These bans, which are a first step in our industrial campaign, will put pressure on Yarra Trams to manage rosters and other administrative tasks," union secretary Luba Grigotovitch said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Yarra Trams have ridden the wave of members' goodwill for too long, now is high time for management to respect the hard work and dedication of their employees."

The tram operator has described the industrial action as unnecessary and disappointing, warning it may cause delays to services.

"This action is being announced by the RTBU on the eve of our first meeting together with Fair Work to continue constructive conversations," a Yarra Trams spokeswoman said in a statement.

"While these actions will not stop the network, they will impact our capacity to deliver timetabled services."

Negotiations between Yarra Trams and the union have been going on since March with concerns about plans to lift the current cap on part-time employees a major sticking point.

The union is demanding a six per cent annual pay rise as well as improved rostering and job security.

They claim Yarra Trams has tried to cut them out of negotiations by going straight to employees with two deals, including an offer of a 12 per cent pay increase over four years. Both were rejected.

The overtime ban comes just days after the RBTU called off industrial action against train operator Metro Trains, following what they said were promising negotiations.

A four-hour work stoppage planned for August 27 remains on the cards if negotiations fall over.