Metro bosses hope new rules will help 'claw back' costs of driver turnover
New rules could help Metro bosses ‘claw back’ some of the training costs of workers lured away by rival rail operators.
Nexus, the network’s operator, has had to oversee a huge increase in its training capacity in a bid to keep pace with the rate of staff turnover.
But transport chiefs hope other measures, including tripling the amount of notice drivers have to work when quitting, could also help staunch the exodus and lower costs.
Chris Carson, Nexus’s Metro Services Director, said: “There’s always a risk Metro drivers will go elsewhere and it would be difficult for Nexus to match pay rates across the industry, but we have no shortage of people looking to join us.
“We get thousands of applicants every time we [advertise].
“We’ve improved terms and conditions, we’ve improved pay, we’ve got a longer notice period, we’ve got claw back clauses and we’ve [changed] our training to give us total control should we be altered to the fact train crew might leave us.”
Carson was speaking at yesterday’s (Thursday, December 17) meeting of the North East Joint Transport Committee’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
In 2019 bosses promised to boost driver pay to £45,000 a year by October 2021.
But Nexus has still struggled to hold on to staff in the face of competition from other operators and which has seen ‘unprecedented’ numbers jumping ship in recent years.
However, bosses hope a change to contracts requiring workers to give 12 weeks notice, rather than the previous four-week period, will help ease pressures.
And for those who do move on, if they do so within two years of finishing their training they may be forced to pay back some of the costs.
Gateshead councillor John Eagle said: “The company invests a lot of money training these drivers and we’re seeing other train operating companies poaching drivers from Nexus without the cost of full training.”
Carson added: “During the train crew agreement we agreed with the trade unions, given the significant investment in training people for six months, that should they leave before the two-year point where they move from inexperienced to experienced there will be a claw back of their training costs.
“That is in their contracts now, it has been agreed, it hasn’t been tested yet, but if that situation did arise we would test it.”