Metro strike set to mean NO SERVICES on Black Eye Friday Saturday before Christmas
The RMT union has today informed Nexus of strike action by train crew on the Tyne and Wear Metro on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 December.
The union has warned this action goes ahead it is highly likely that there will be no Metro services, across the entire Metro system, on those two days.
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, has urged the union to call off the strike and to enter further negotiations and warned that a strike would cause massive disruption for tens of thousands of passengers.
The RMT has given official notification of the strike action after rejecting a 15% increase in pay and improved rostering arrangements.
The strike is highly likely to mean that no Metro services will be running system-wide for two full days, December 20-21, and passengers will need to find alternative modes of transport.
The days on which the RMT has chosen to take strike action are two of the busiest days of the year for the area, in which hundreds of local businesses, shoppers and revellers prepare for Christmas, and people travel from and to the area in large numbers to visit family and friends as well as there being a Newcastle United home game.
Metro Services Director, Chris Carson, said: “This is totally unjustified strike action by the RMT union. It is going to be hugely disruptive for the tens of thousands of working people and local businesses who rely on its services.
“This action shows a callous disregard for the people who rely on the Metro every day, and all the more so as Christmas approaches. Unfortunately, people will need to plan ahead and find alternative modes of travel when it is taking place.
“We have been trying hard to persuade the RMT to agree to a deal for our train crew, including a 15 percent pay increase and improved rostering arrangements. Nexus met with union for six hours of talks where we offered further concessions, yet they walked away without an agreement.
“Metro is a publicly owned railway, it does not make any profit, and it can only operate thanks to significant subsidy paid by taxpayers. What the unions are demanding is simply unaffordable and unrealistic. We simply cannot match the pay levels of train drivers who work for privately run operators.
“I continue to strongly urge union members to think long and hard about taking this action. It harms an essential public service, its passengers, and the area as a whole.
Nexus has made an unprecedented offer to its drivers of a 15% increase in salary over two years on top of annual cost of living rises. The offer would take their annual salary up to an estimated £46,000 per annum by 1 April 2022.
In return Nexus is asking for some changes to working practices that will reduce the likelihood of trains being cancelled due to driver shortages, and to help with the once-in-a-lifetime task of introducing the new Metro train fleet.