Metro engineers to strike over 'miserable' pay offer – but Tyne and Wear travel bosses say network won't be shut down

Metro passengers have been warned to brace for disruption after train engineers voted to go on strike.

More than 50 staff employed by Stadler Rail at the Metro’s depot are set to walk out over what the Unite union has slammed as a “miserable” pay offer.

The staff were set to start a ban on overtime working on Friday (October 14) and have voted to strike after rejecting a 4% pay rise offer, although dates for a walk-out are yet to be announced.

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Metro operator Nexus confirmed strike action would not cause the Metro system to be shut down – but it is likely to disrupt timetables by preventing maintenance of the Metro’s ageing and increasingly unreliable fleet.

The Tyne and Wear Metro is set to be hit by more industrial action.
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Unite’s regional coordinating officer Suzanne Reid said: “Our members are working harder and harder but their wages are worth less and less.

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"The sheer number of extra hours worked to keep on top of the Metro maintenance means the overtime ban will cause disruption.

“But this is entirely the fault of Stadler, which can well afford to put forward a reasonable pay rise but is refusing to do so. The company must table an offer our members can accept.”

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Stadler is building the Metro’s new £362 million fleet of trains in Switzerland, as well as a new £70 million depot in Gosforth.

Unite said the manufacturing giant had also offered staff a one-off £1,000 payment, but workers want a bigger uplift in their basic pay.

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Stadler reported profits of £119 million in 2021 and record order figures.

The union’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, added: “Stadler wants its Tyne and Wear engineers to take a pay cut as prices rocket, while it continues to rake in huge profits – this is not acceptable to Unite.

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“Stadler brings in enormous profits every year, so there is no reason why it should not give its Metro workers a fair piece of the pie. Our members have Unite’s full backing in their fight for a fair pay rise.”

A spokesperson for Stadler said: “Stadler is heartened that two of our three trade union partners in Newcastle have voted to accept our 2022 pay offer, however, it is disappointing that 23 of the 45 Unite members have chosen to vote for strike action.

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"Throughout the negotiations, we have demonstrated a genuine desire to reach an agreement and remain committed to this.

"We hope that Unite members will think carefully about industrial action, so that any disruption to our business can be avoided.”

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A Nexus spokesperson said: “We urge both sides to find a resolution to this dispute as soon as they can.

"We have been assured by Stadler that any industrial action will not impact on the services that we provide for our customers.”