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West Midland Metro bosses accused of paying staff 'pittance' as first of 53 strike days begins

Union bosses have accused West Midland Metro bosses of paying staff 'pittance' as the first of 53 days of walkouts gets under way.

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The dispute involves more than 174 West Midlands Metro employees

Extensive strike action affecting the West Midland Metro starts today, with planned disruption expected until early January.

A reduced tram service will run during the first four days of the strike, across October 15, 18, 20 and 22, with trams running to and from Wolverhampton St George's and Bull Street between 8.30am and 5pm.

The 53 days are planned due to a dispute over rates of pay described as a 'substandard' by union Unite.

The dispute involves more than 174 members of the union, employed by West Midlands Metro, who are seeking a major improvement in their pay.

It comes after a disastrous year for West Midlands Metro, with tram services halted on three separate occasions in just nine months due to cracks in the trams.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, 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."

The union says workers are seeking a minimum pay rate of £27,000 for tram drivers and customer representatives, and a £5,000 increase for all other grades.

A spokesman for West Midlands Metro said: "The union, Unite, has notified us that their members intend to take industrial action from Saturday 15 October.

"On the impending strike days, we will be doing everything possible to operate the very best service that we can.

"Having finalised plans for the first four dates, we have been able to minimise the impact on the majority of journeys."

The full list of strike dates

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.