Nottingham MPs ‘disappointed’ as terminally-ill tram staff face pay cut and plan strike

A tram in Nottingham
A tram in Nottingham
By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter

Nottingham tram staff have threatened to strike over the treatment of two terminally-ill workers who a union says are facing an “unacceptable” loss of pay.

The city’s Labour MPs have described the treatment of the two staff members as “disappointing” after the GMB union which represents them said they had  had their pay reduced.

They are employed by Keolis (Nottingham Trams), which forms part of the group of companies which runs the Nottingham Express Transit (NET) tram network.

Keolis is a signatory to the ‘Dying to Work Charter’, which is an agreement to guarantee income protection for workers when facing terminal illnesses, but GMB claims the company has indicated “they could withdraw from such agreements, leaving Nottingham’s tram workers without vital protections if they face a terminal illness”.

NET however says it will “continue to work towards a resolution” and that it remains committed to the charter.

The firm said it could not comment on the individual cases but added it had provided support that “far exceeds” that set out in the charter.

Nadia Whittome (Lab), who represents Nottingham East, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Terminally ill workers and their families deserve proper protections from their employer at what is an unimaginably difficult time.

“While I’m disappointed at Nottingham Trams’ actions, I’m proud of GMB members for standing up for their colleagues and defending these important protections.”

Nottingham South’s Lilian Greenwood (Lab) said: “Very disappointing, NET, having signed up to the Dying to Work Charter, are not treating terminally-ill staff with the compassion they deserve.”

A ballot over strike action will now take place on the back the case.

Colin Whyatt, an organiser for GMB, said: “This is a shocking lack of respect shown by company top brass to loyal and hard-working staff.

“Many years ago, GMB members were successful in delivering the ‘Dying to Work’ charter for Nottingham’s tram workers, which gives them protection in the face of terminal illness at work.

“For the company to turn around and threaten to pull out of these agreements, at a time of such uncertainly and hardship, speaks volumes about the companies approach to supporting vulnerable workers.

“Despite written agreements and public displays of support from the employer for the Dying To Work’ charter, the current senior management team seem unwilling to act on the basic principle of support for workers facing terminal illness.

“GMB members are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with colleagues facing these hardships and will take the decision on the next steps in their campaign in the coming weeks”.

An NET spokes​man added: “Although we are unable to comment on any individual cases, we have provided levels of support for employees that far exceed those set out in the TUC’s Dying to Work Charter.

“Clearly, we are disappointed that the GMB Union has threatened to take unnecessary industrial action, but we will continue to work towards a resolution to what is a very sensitive issue and remain committed to the charter.”

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