The Tyne and Wear Metro are warning passengers that from Sunday 1st December services will be affected by the start of an overtime ban by members of the RMT and ASLEF unions. This ban all stems from the previously announced rejection of a new pay and conditions offer from Nexus, which after an improved rostering offer has been rejected again.
As we reported a few weeks ago the headline – as far as Nexus are concerned anyway – in this offer is a big 15% increase in pay but in addition to this there were changes to working arrangements although the exact details of these changes weren’t publicly announced. This deal was originally rejected and after further negotiations Nexus offered improved rostering arrangements but despite this the deal has again been rejected.
The rejection of the deal now means that the unions are pressing ahead with their overtime ban which is likely to lead to disruption on the Metro at times – particularly affecting the peak extras which are scheduled to run during the week. Like many public transport companies the Metro relies on staff working extra hours and so this is likely to have an affect although they have said they will try to keep it to a minimum. There may be occasions when trains are cancelled at short notice due to the lack of cover when a member of train crew becomes unavailable at short notice.
During the ban on overtime Nexus will publish the predicted level of Metro service in advance of each day.
Chris Carson, Metro Services Director, said: “We are extremely disappointed that the unions have rejected a 15 percent pay rise and improvements to rostering arrangements as part of a final package, and have opted to press ahead with this damaging and unjustified industrial action. The overtime ban will disrupt the daily lives of many people who rely on Metro to get to places of work and education each and every day, and we can only apologise to passengers for any difficulties they encounter as a result. Some disruption is inevitable but we will do what we can to keep services running despite this unjustified industrial action. We will forecast the level of service we anticipate each day and will publish it in advance through our website and our official Twitter page. We have offered our train crew an unprecedented deal for Metro and we remain astonished that it has been turned down. Metro is a publicly owned railway, it does not make any profit, and it can only operate thanks to significant subsidy paid by taxpayers. What the unions are demanding is simply unaffordable and unrealistic. The unions have said they are going ahead with the industrial action but I’d urge them to reconsider their position and to look again at our offer. This action will only harm an essential public service and disrupt many thousands of people.”
* The official line may have been that the overtime ban would start on 1st December but the afternoon and evening of Friday 29th November saw cancellations due to “driver availability”.