Tyne and Wear Metro cleaners agree two-week strike
Cleaners working on the Tyne and Wear Metro are to strike for two weeks in an escalation of a long-running pay dispute.
The staff, employed by Churchill, will walk out from Friday until 26 July.
Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, said the action had national significance in the battle against "low pay and exploitation".
Metro operator DB Regio said passengers would not suffer inconvenience.
Sharon Kelly, director of customer services and operations, said: "This is a matter for Churchill to resolve with its staff.
"We have contingencies in place so passengers will not notice any change to services during the action."'Value for money'
The cleaning staff have so far taken part in 19 days of industrial action.
The RMT claimed Metro owner Nexus could "force its contractors DB Regio to instruct their subcontractors, Churchill, to pay a living wage if it chose to take the issue on".
Nexus said cleaning services were contracted out "to ensure the local taxpayer gets the best value for money".
A spokesman said: "This is a dispute between the RMT and Churchill.
"Nexus does not employ the cleaning staff on Metro so cannot get involved in an issue over their terms and conditions. It is a matter for the employer and the union to negotiate over."
Churchill was unavailable for comment.