World's largest tram network shuts down as Melbourne drivers strike

2019-11-28 09:52

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SYDNEY, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Tram drivers in the Australian city of Melbourne stopped work on Thursday, demanding higher pay and more reliable work schedules.

The halt of the world's largest tram network has forced thousands of passengers onto replacement buses, following an ongoing dispute between the workers' union and private operator Yarra Trams.

The action took place between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. local time, with those passengers riding on a tram at 10:00 a.m. requested to disembark at the next stop.

As well as demanding a wage increase, the union has opposed the hiring of more part-time workers which they said undermines job security.

Yarra Trams said its new part-time plans will lead to diversity and inclusivity but the "actual shifts and rosters proposed are completely unsuitable for workers with child care and caring responsibilities," Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) secretary Luba Grigorovitch told the AAP on Wednesday.

Melbourne is famous for its 130-year-old tram network, the largest in the world with roughly 250 km of track.

Despite being a favourite method of transport for millions of Melburnians and international visitors every year, union representatives said the company undervalues roughly 1,200 drivers.

In a statement to AAP, Yarra Trams CEO Nicolas Gindt described the action as unnecessary and said that the company "remain committed to continuing negotiations to reach a positive outcome."

Further industrial action is planned for Dec. 5 if a deal is not reached.
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