Tyne and Wear Metro services should start to get back to normal again after the RMT agreed to suspend industrial action pending an improved offer from Nexus. Throughout December there had been an overtime ban which had led to many peak services unable to run and this was followed by a 48 hour strike on 20th and 21st December with a further strike due to take place on 6th and 7th January.
The dispute had all come to a head over a new Train Crew Agreement which would have seen a 15% pay increase over two years on top of the usual cost of living increases which could have amounted to drivers being paid in the region of £46,000 per annum. However, it was the changes to working arrangements which had also been part of the package which was the sticking point although nothing was ever publicly said as to what these changes were.
No Metro services ran at all on 20th and 21st December with drivers on strike and shortly before Christmas it was announced that a further 48 hour strike would take place on 6th and 7th January. However, fresh talks which took place between Christmas and New Year saw the industrial action suspended. This is not only the two day strike but also the overtime ban.
Chris Carson, Metro Services Director, said: “I’m pleased that we have had very positive discussions with the RMT Union and as a result all industrial action by Metro train crew has been suspended. The planned train crew strikes on 6th and 7th January will not be taking place and the overtime ban which led to a reduced service throughout December has also been called off. This is great news for our passengers to whom I would like to apologise for the inconvenience running up to and during the festive period. We had very productive talks in which both parties agreed to a compromise in an attempt to end this dispute. Further discussions will take place on Monday with both the RMT and ASLEF Unions to finalise a new offer, and we hope this will lead to a ballot for a new Train Crew Agreement that helps us all move the Metro into a positive future.”
A degree of normality will now return for the Tyne and Wear Metro although based on the last few months this may not yet see a reliable service operating across the network at all times.