Nexus, the public body which owns and manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, has today declared it is astonished that Metro drivers in the RMT and ASLEF unions have opted to reject a 15% pay rise.
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.
Both unions have rejected the pay offer and their members have balloted in favour of industrial action, which could mean an overtime ban or a strike on the Tyne and Wear Metro.
Nexus has made it clear to the drivers’ unions that a higher pay award coupled with improved terms and conditions in rosters are unaffordable and unrealistic.
Metro Services Director, Chris Carson, said: “We are about to start the process of transforming the Metro system with a new train fleet and as part of this we have made an unprecedented pay offer to our Metro drivers of a 15 percent increase in salary over two years, on top of the annual cost of living rise.
“In return for this we are asking for some changes to working practices that will reduce the likelihood of trains being cancelled due to driver shortages, and help us with the once-in-a-lifetime task of introducing a new train fleet.
“We’re astonished that this offer has been rejected and that the trades unions not only want more pay, but also to work reduced shift lengths which can only be achieved by us employing significantly more drivers. The trades unions have not made any suggestions as to where the money should come from to pay for this.
“Metro is a publicly owned service run for the benefit of the local community. Not only does it not make any profit, but it can only operate thanks to significant subsidy paid by taxpayers.
“Metro is about to benefit from the biggest investment since it opened, with new trains coming that will improve the drivers’ working environment every bit as much as they will transform the experience for passengers.
“I urge the unions to get around the table with us to finalise the details of this pay deal so that we can get on with our job of transforming the Metro for the people who rely on it.
“If despite this offer the unions do choose to take industrial action we will do everything we possibly can to keep our passengers informed about any disruption that results.”