Football fans breathe sigh of relief after Metrolink strike plans put on hold
- Tram driver strike called off ahead of the Manchester United v Aston Villa match
- More strike action planned in matter of weeks affecting the city's marathon and Liverpool game
- Stagecoach bus drivers also vote on strike action
Football fans have expressed relief after Unite Union suspended strike plans for Metrolink's 300 drivers at the weekend following a “greatly improved pay offer”.
Workers were originally offered a 1% increase over 15 months, an offer Unite described as “pitiful”.
Speaking to Northen Quota, Unite's senior communications officer Barckley Sumner said the increased offer was “a much more generous multi-year deal”.
With around 72,500 football fans attending Saturday’s game at Old Trafford, the planned strike promised to cause serious disruption.
Guillaume Chanussot, managing director at operator KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM), said: “I am pleased that we have been able to reach agreement with Unite on an improved offer for our driver workforce which enables them to suspend their planned industrial action.
“We’ll now be able to concentrate on providing a normal service to support the various major events taking place.”
Domanic, a Manchester United supporter for more 40 years, said: “The reason behind taking the tram is free carparking and its relatively simple to get to and from the ground. It's also for environmental reasons”.
He said the strike would have made him and many other fans angry at their game being disrupted.
Tram drivers have planned to strike on 10 October, the day of the Manchester marathon, and Sunday 24 October, when Manchester United and Liverpool are due to play.
Mr Sumner said the dates “still remain live, depending on the decision of members”.
Jackie Tee, a football fan from Sale, said if the trams were not running on match days she would have to “get my husband to drop us off and pick us up” or “drive in and park near the ground” which would cost significantly more.
A Metrolink anytime return tram ticket from Sale to the Man United grounds costs £3.50, whereas the Chorley Street carpark, 0.7miles from Old Trafford, charge £15 for 2 hours on match days.
This means many supporters could be spending 325% more on travel for the Liverpool game.
These strikes are not the only ones that could affect Manchester in the coming months with Stagecoach bus drivers voting for strike action.
Unite regional officer Dave Roberts has said: “Strike action will cause huge disruption to passengers across Greater Manchester.
“Bus workers were rightly hailed as heroes during successive lockdowns. However, warm words do not pay the bills and Stagecoach needs to reward its workers' dedication with a decent pay award.”
A ballot for strike action will open tomorrow (Tuesday) and close on 12 October. If Unite Union members vote for industrial action, strikes could begin later this autumn.