Tram drivers could strike in the run-up to Christmas this year as union members are balloted for more action.

Warnings of disruption come amid an ongoing pay dispute between the ASLEF union and FirstGroup which operates the South London Tramlink service on behalf of Transport for London (TfL).

The union claims the offered two per cent pay rise from November 2021 would be a real terms pay cut.

However, FirstGroup claims this equates to seven per cent increase with changes to working hours.

Another 4.75 per cent increase was also offered by the company this year.

ASLEF district organiser, Finn Brennan, said: “It is a different story for FirstGroup bosses and shareholders who were paid out £500m in dividends 2021/22.

"Sitting on government-backed contracts that mean they can’t lose no matter how bad a service they provide, FirstGroup management has presided over the safety failures that led to the Sandilands crash in which seven people died and the collapse of rail services on the West Coast mainline.

“Rarely has a company demonstrated such contempt for its staff and its passengers.”

It has now been six months since staff were first balloted by the union and Tramlink drivers have already walked out for six days of strikes since June.

Ballot papers are set to be sent out to members from Monday, November 7, closing a month later.

This would mean action could be taken from December 21 and run over the Christmas period.

A spokesperson for Tram Operations Limited, a subsidiary of FirstGroup, said: “Aslef should have asked their members to vote on our pay offer, not reballot them on taking more strike action.

"At the end of last year we agreed to Aslef’s request for a change in terms and gave drivers a pay award, all of which equated to a seven per cent rise.

“This year we’ve offered a pay increase of nearly five per cent.

"Continuing these needless strikes risks ruining Christmas for people in Croydon and hurting the local economy at a time when residents and businesses want to see growth again. 

"We want to find a solution to this dispute – Aslef should call off these damaging strikes and reconsider our latest offer.”