West Midland Metro staff to strike for 53 days over pay

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More than 174 West Midland Metro employees have announced 53 days of strike action in a dispute over pay.

The strike action began on Saturday 15 October, and has been scheduled to continue until Saturday 5 January 2023.

The striking employees, who are members of trade union Unite, have asked for a minimum pay rate of £27,000 for tram drivers and customer representatives, currently paid £21,939, and a £5,000 increase for all other grades, which currently start at £21,537.

West Midland Metro made an offer of £25,250 to drivers and customer representatives, and a 5.25% increase to all other grades. According to Unite, despite extensive negotiations, the business has not made an offer that meets the workers’ expectations.

While the strike is happening, vehicles will be operated by supervisors, trainers and some control staff, but will operate without conductors. Unite stated that the employer’s efforts to operate a skeleton service during the strike has safety implications for both workers and passengers.

A West Midlands Metro spokesperson said: “We remain committed to reaching an amicable agreement to avoid further unnecessary disruption to our customers, and although it is disappointing that our request to continue discussions through the conciliation service was refused by the union, we are continuing talks with colleagues.

“A fair pay offer, including an increase of more than 15% 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, bringing these salaries into line with those on similar-sized tram systems in the UK, and a significant pay rise for other colleagues across the network.”

Sharon Graham, general secretary at Unite, said: “Our members are no longer prepared to accept substandard wages for the challenging work they undertake to keep Birmingham and the Black Country moving. These workers simply can’t make ends meet on the pittance that they are being paid by West Midlands Metro. Unite is determined to win them a better deal and our members have their union’s full support in this dispute.”