Tram network pay-row strike to hit Sydney commuters

Sydney's tram network will be brought to a standstill as a pay dispute escalates between its commercial operator and unions.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union is calling for a 23 per cent pay increase and improved conditions for workers on the inner-city light-rail network.

But negotiations have failed to deliver a deal, leading to industrial action on Tuesday that will culminate in a network-wide stoppage on Wednesday.

The union wants the four-year pay rise to keep pace with the rising cost of living, as well as an extra five days of sick leave to help manage fatigue.

Light-rail operator Transdev offered workers an initial six per cent pay rise, followed by four per cent increases over the next three years - a cumulative rise of about 19 per cent.

The company's offer did not include more sick leave and was rejected by the union.

"Our members have given us a very clear direction in terms of what they find acceptable," Rail, Tram and Bus Union locomotive secretary David Babineau told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

Negotiations will continue as workers take industrial action which involves a refusal to wear uniforms or work overtime, while trams will travel at speeds below the limit.

Extra buses will be rolled out to carry passengers affected by the 24-hour stoppage on Wednesday.

Mr Babineau said the industrial action, which has been criticised for disrupting events such as crowds travelling to the Vivid festival, was an unfortunate necessity.

Prices for essentials such as food, rent, electricity and petrol had all "leaped" forward since workers last had a pay rise, he said.

"The usual just isn't enough anymore," Mr Babineau said.

Transdev Sydney managing director Arsene Durand-Raucher apologised to customers for the service disruptions, which he said would be minimised as much as possible.

He said he was disappointed the industrial action was going ahead after reaching an in-principle agreement in late May.

“We are still committed to negotiating in good faith and remain hopeful that we can reach a resolution soon,” Mr Durand-Raucher said.

Mr Babineau said the parties had been meeting as often as twice a week to reach an agreement.

"Without workers there is no business, there is no profit, it needs to be addressed," he said.

Transport Minister Jo Haylen said the state government was not a party to the negotiations, but she hoped the sides could reach an agreement soon.

"Of course workers have the right to take industrial action, but ultimately we hope they work that out at the negotiating table first," she said.

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