West Midlands Metro workers to strike for 52 days over pay

Workers employed on the West Midlands Metro have voted to take strike action in a dispute over low pay.

The first strike will take place on Saturday 15 October and there are a further 52 days of strike action scheduled between then and Saturday 5 January 2023.

Unite represents more than 176 workers on the West Midlands Metro who recorded a yes vote of 86% on an 84% turnout.

The workers are seeking a minimum pay rate of £27,000 for tram drivers/customer representatives and a £5,000 increase for all other grades, which can start at £21,537.

Unite says the tram drivers/customer representatives are currently paid just £21,939, which it says is one of the lowest rates in the UK for this kind of role.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is disgraceful that despite our members undertaking extremely demanding and responsible jobs and ensuring that Birmingham and the Black Country keeps moving, they are paid poverty wages.

“Unite always fights tooth and nail for its members as it ensures that their jobs, pay and conditions are defended and enhanced. Our members at Midlands Metro will receive the union’s unswerving support.”

A West Midlands Metro spokesman said: “Naturally, we are disappointed at the ballot result and the union’s decision to escalate the dispute, despite our extensive efforts to reach an amicable agreement.

“Unfortunately, Unite has also declined to continue negotiations through the conciliation service ACAS and has now informed us of dates on which they intend to undertake industrial action. However, a fair pay offer, including an increase of more than 15 per cent – or more than £3,300 a year – for tram crew with a full year’s service, remains on the table.

“These proposals also include an increase for tram crew in their first year who are still receiving training, bringing these salaries into line with those on similar-sized tram systems in other UK cities. Other colleagues across the network will also receive a significant pay rise.

“This fair and comprehensive package was put forward following a difficult couple of years for the network, during which we have supported our colleagues through the pandemic and more recent service suspensions that were beyond our control.

“These challenges have inevitably had an impact on revenues, and we continue to operate with financial support from West Midlands Combined Authority. As a result, the proposals, which were initially accepted by Unite, represent our best offer in the current circumstances.

“Clearly, any industrial action risks impacting on the network’s post-pandemic recovery as well as causing unnecessary disruption for customers who we will update on affected services in due course.”

Strike action will take place on:

October 15, 19, 20, 2224, 26, 29, 31.

November 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 29, 30.

December 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31. January 1, 2, 5.