Manchester Mayor urges unions to call off strikes over Parklife weekend

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Manchester, has called for planned industrial action by tram drivers over the weekend of the Parklife music festival to be postponed.

Burnham offered to meet union bosses – who are demanding more than the current 5% pay rise on the table from Manchester Metrolink – if they agreed to call off the strike over the weekend of June 10-11.

It is a particularly busy weekend in Manchester’s live events calendar, with charity football match Soccer Aid taking place at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium and The Weeknd headlining at Etihad Stadium and singer Roger Waters set to perform at the AO Arena.

Last year’s Parklife attracted more than 82,000 attendees while Manchester Metrolink carried an average of 500,000 passengers every week during the 12 months through to March 2022.

“I will set up a process of talks, but it has to be in the real world with the kind of pressures we’re under,” Burnham told BBC Radio Manchester. “Let’s get around that table and see if we can find a way forward. But in return, I do ask the trade union today to postpone those strikes next weekend.”

In response, a spokesperson for the Unite union said: “Metrolink has failed to make an improved offer and therefore the strikes are set to go ahead as planned.”

In a separate development, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) estimated that this week’s country-wide industrial action by the ASLEF and RMT transport unions in the UK would cost the sector £200m in lost revenue over three days of strikes.

“With the summer festival and events season just getting underway, some festivals are suggesting strike action could have a substantial impact on the season, with some suggesting it could take them to breaking point,” NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said.

“Businesses are suffering heavily with recent figures, showing a 40% increase in operating costs and a 15% downturn in trade, alongside interest rate rises and financial support drying up from Government.

“The difficult trading environment coupled with further strike action expected to last until the end of the summer will stretch most business owners’ resilience .”