Extensive strike action affecting the West Midland Metro will begin tomorrow (Saturday 15 October), in a dispute over rates of pay described as a 'pittance'.

53 days of strikes

Fifty-three days of strike action will get underway following the  employer's failure to improve its pay offer or to propose fresh negotiations. 

The dispute involves over 174 members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, employed by West Midlands Metro, who are seeking a major improvement on their pay. For some it is the lowest rate of pay in the country for the roles they undertake.

Saturday is the first of 53 days of strike action, which has been scheduled to continue until Saturday 5 January 2023 (see notes to editors for full list).

Substandard wages

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham 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.”

Pay increase

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 that can start at just £21,537. 

The tram drivers/customer representatives are currently paid just £21,939, which is among the lowest pay rates in the UK for this kind of role.

Despite extensive negotiations, the employer has refused to make an offer that meets the workers' expectations. It has made an inadequate offer of £25,250 to drivers/customer representatives and just 5.25 per cent to all other grades.

Safety implications 

Unite is also warning that the employer's efforts to operate a skeleton service during the strike has safety implications for the workers and passengers alike. 

Vehicles will be operated by supervisors, trainers and some control staff, who have received only rudimentary or refresher training on driving the metro service. Unite understands that the service will operate without conductors, which the union also says raises safety concerns.

No conductors

Unite regional officer Sulinder Singh said: “Unite has serious safety concerns about the skeleton service that West Midlands Metro is intending to operate as conductors play a key role ensuring the welfare of passengers.

“Rather than attempting to operate a second rate service, West Midlands Metro should be tabling a pay increase which meets our members’ expectations.”

Picket line

The main picket line will be at Great Western Street, Wednesbury WS10 7LH between 08:00 and 17:00.


Strike action will take place on October 15, 18, 20, 22, 24, 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.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.