'Metro misery'

Tyne and Wear braced for ‘Metro misery’ during rail maintenance strikes

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Tyne and Wear residents are being warned to brace for ‘Metro misery’ during train maintenance strikes that will impact rail travel across the region.

Unite issued the warning after its members employed by Swiss rail giant Stadler voted for strike action in response to the company implementing a pay freeze.

Around 30 Unite members, in coordination with RMT members also taking industrial action against Stadler’s wage freeze, will strike on 28, 29 and 30 June and 1, 2, 3 and 4 July. An overtime ban will also commence on 5 July.

In October 2020, Stadler won a £300 million contract to build 42 new Metro trains, rebuild the Gosforth depot and maintain the Nexus Tyne and Wear train stock for 35 years.

The multi-billion-pound company has initiated the pay freeze despite recording an 8 per cent increase in net profits during 2020.

Stadler’s 2020 annual report also states that the division responsible for its Tyne and Wear operations brought in a ‘record 1.46 billion Swiss francs (£1.2 billion) in 2020’.

Unite regional coordinating officer Suzanne Reid said, “The responsibility for these strikes, which will cause Metro misery for the travelling public during the height of the summer, sits squarely with Stadler.

“Stadler is in excellent financial health and has benefited from the hard work of our members who maintained the Metro stock 24/7 right through the pandemic,” she added.

“The very least they deserve is a reasonable pay rise, but instead Stadler has chosen to hoard its considerable profits and freeze their wages.

“Stadler still has time to avoid industrial action. We urge the company to return to the negotiating table with an offer our members can accept – the alternative is a summer of disruption to Metro services.”

By Ryan Fletcher

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