“We have not taken industrial action for two months because we did not want to inconvenience the public over the past month, however Yarra Trams has now left us no choice,” RTBU secretary Luba Grigorovitch said.
The RTBU claims it accelerated industrial action because Yarra Trams came back from the Christmas period with the exact same deal that has already been voted down by members.
Yarra Trams has offered a 12 per cent raise over four years, and also wants 15 per cent of the workforce to be part time to make the roster more flexible.
The RTBU insists the move would strip away job security.
Union members are still seeking an annual 5 per cent raise, having backed down from the initial demand of a 6 per cent yearly raise.
Yarra Trams said it would work with the Department of Transport and the Australian Open to minimise impact on commuters.
“The RTBU has chosen to cause unnecessary disruption to Melburnians during the Australian Open, rather than work to reach an agreement with us,” a Yarra Trams spokeswoman said.
“We share our passengers’ frustration that services will be unnecessarily disrupted by the RTBU yet again.
“We are committed to continuing negotiations to find a mutually beneficial outcome.”
But union secretary Luba Grigorovitch said the RTBU had “shown as much restraint as it can” and called on the government to intervene.
“This week they repackaged the same part-time proposal that was overwhelmingly rejected by the workforce.
“These negotiations are seven months overdue, all our members want is a fair and reasonable deal.”
Negotiations started in March last year.
Rachel is a breaking news reporter for The Age.