Hopes to halt second Metro strike planned for Sunderland Bruce Springsteen gig

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HOPES are growing that talks to avert a further Metro strike will help prevent travel chaos when Bruce Springsteen rolls into town.

Commuters and Coldplay concert-goers were forced to find alternative transport last Thursday when Metro drivers employed by operator DB Regio walked out in a dispute over pay and conditions. There were no trains running as 160 drivers took action.

Drivers turned down a 2.1 per cent revised offer last week, over objections to plans to change the way in which future rises would be calculated.

Members of the RMT union are due to stage another walkout when Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band play at the stadium on June 21.

But now talks could be set to resume, with DB Region in touch with the union about reopening negotiations.

RMT regional organiser Micky Thompson said: “I have received an email from DB Regio about recommencing formal negotiations.

“I am sure this move is the result of third-party pressure.”

DB Regio director of customer service Sharon Kelly confirmed the firm had been in touch with the union.

“I can confirm we have invited the unions to reopen talks and we very much hope to find a resolution and avoid strike action and inconvenience for the travelling public on June 21,” she said.

A separate dispute with Metro cleaners continues today. The two-day protest, which began on Sunday, is due to end tonight. Cleaners working for contractor Churchill have taken action over a pay freeze and the sacking of a colleague.

Unions have accused the operator of washing its hands of the row. Micky Thompson said: “It is not right that the operators just blame the contractors.”

But Sharon Kelly said the row was between union and contractor.

“This is a matter for Churchill to resolve with its staff but we have contingencies in place so the strike will not impact on the travelling public,” she said.

Twitter: @Sunechobiz