Melbourne tram drivers will rally outside Yarra Trams headquarters at noon on Monday to protest against recent sackings and what the union claims is increasingly harsh treatment by management.
The Rail Tram and Bus Union also fears staff or a member of the public could be electrocuted after two incidents in recent weeks in which a tram became insulated, or "live".
In April, a maintenance employee received an electric shock at the Brunswick depot. Another tram became insulated on Commercial Road outside The Alfred hospital on May 18, although it was safely removed.
An urgent notice to Yarra Trams staff, signed by union tram and bus division secretary Phil Altieri, calls on them to join Monday's planned rally to "make a stand" against “bloody minded, unnecessary and unwarranted sackings”.
The union alleges the “unwarranted” sackings include a rookie driver on route 109 who was sacked for taking a wrong turn onto route 48 and failing to notify the operations centre.
Another veteran driver resigned after she raised her middle finger at a manager during a dispute over bottled water on a very hot day.
The driver, a staunch environmentalist, objected to management handing out plastic water bottles instead of reusable flasks, the union claims.
Meanwhile, a manager who physically struck a tram driver was disciplined but kept her job following an internal investigation.
“This double standard hypocrisy is outrageous when workers are being sacked for inappropriate comments,” Mr Altieri wrote to staff.
He predicted a crowd in the hundreds on Monday. But one tram driver predicted that many staff would stay away for fear of also being sacked.
"I would be interested in seeing anyone that does show up to it, do they have a job in three months time?" the driver said. "A lot of talk at the moment at work, people are just too scared to show up to the meeting."
Yarra Trams has dismissed 13 staff in the past 12 months, including seven this year. The company says the sackings were for extreme safety breaches such as using a mobile phone while driving or for workplace bullying and harassment. It rejects claims of a new hard-line approach to employees.
“While we do not publicly discuss the outcomes of internal disciplinary proceedings, no employees have been dismissed for the reasons that have been put to you,” Yarra Trams spokesman Simon Murphy said.
Mr Murphy said the company expected all rostered staff to fulfil their regular duties on Monday, but any unrostered staff who attended the rally would not be targeted. He said there was no reason to believe tram services would be disrupted.
“Yarra Trams is firmly committed to fairly applying standards for employee conduct across the organisation. All disciplinary proceedings follow clearly defined standards and processes,” he said.
“Any employee who is dismissed has the option of requesting an internal appeal, or making an application to Fair Work Australia.”
An earlier version of this story stated a tram driver was sacked over a dispute about a bottle of water. This has been clarified by Yarra Trams. The driver resigned.