Unite has blamed Transport for London (TfL) for the ongoing disruption to Croydon Tramlink.

The disruption has been caused by essential engineering delays because of strike action and staff shortages due to “hugely unfair pay disparities.”

Around 60 tram, stores and infrastructure engineers, who are members of Unite, took five days of strike action from Sunday, May 5, to Thursday, May 9.

They claim this is because their colleagues on the London Underground, who require the same qualifications and perform the same roles, are paid up to £10,000 more a year.

Since the strike action ended, Tramlink services have been severely impacted and will likely not resume normal service until well into the summer because of wheel damage across the fleet.

Unite has said that disruption will become worse if TfL does not engage in “good faith negotiations” to resolve the pay disparities.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “TfL thinks it can get away with treating Croydon Tramlink engineers as second-class employees by paying them much less than their colleagues doing the exact same job on the London Underground.

“It needs to think again.

“TfL has been given every opportunity to make this situation right.

“There can be no more time wasting from TfL.

“The initial industrial action has demonstrated that our members are absolutely critical to the running of Tramlink and they must be paid fairly.”

The workers agreed to postpone strike action in March as a good faith gesture to allow talks with TfL to go ahead.

Negotiations failed, however, because Unite claims TfL refused to be transparent about the process it was using to identify pay disparities and broke its word on how they would be resolved.

The workers perform key safety critical maintenance and repairs.

Tramlink suffers major engineer recruitment and retention problems due to the highly skilled staff preferring to work on the London Underground because the pay is better.   

Further strike action will be scheduled if the dispute is not resolved, according to Unite.

Unite regional officer Bruce Swann said: “TfL is entirely to blame for the disruption caused to the travelling public in South London.

“It cannot keep ignoring the hugely unfair pay disparities Croydon Tramlink engineers are subject to or this dispute will further escalate.

“Unite’s door remains open for further negotiations, but they can only happen if TfL approaches them with a view to putting forward a solution our members can agree to.”   

We have contacted TfL for a comment.