METRO cleaners have come a step closer to striking over pay after a union heavyweight waded into the dispute.
Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT, has given workers the green light to vote on possible strike action.
He has told staff – many of whom live and work in South Tyneside – they are allowed to ballot.
A vote in favour would see a further direct ballot carried out on whether to walk out.
Mr Crow’s endorsement follows a report to the RMT’s General Grades Committee outlining the nature of the dispute with Churchill Contract Services, which employs about 80 staff.
That was compiled by Micky Thompson, the South Shields-based RMT regional organiser for the North East and North Yorkshire.
He has told of his frustration at Hertfordshire-based Churchill’s refusals to “substantially” increase pay of staff who earn the £6.08 minimum wage.
In a letter to Mr Thompson, Mr Crow said: “We note the derisory offer and the failure of Churchill to offer a substantial increase to our low-paid vulnerable workers.
“This is completely unacceptable to this union.
“Therefore the General Secretary is instructed to advise Churchill Contract Services that we are in dispute with them over this matter.”