Tyne and Wear Metro drivers to be balloted over strike
Drivers on the Tyne and Wear Metro network are to be balloted for strikes in protest at a government-imposed 1% pay cap, union bosses have said.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said its 250 members were classed as local government employees and were caught in the "trap" of a pay cap.
General secretary Mick Cash said members were at the point where they were "prepared to fight for justice".
Operator Nexus said talks were planned in the hope of averting any action.
Mr Cash said: "With [retail price] inflation running at 4% our members should not be forced through centrally imposed austerity measures to take a hit on their standards of living.
"The government seems to have plenty of cash available when it comes to looking after mates in the private train companies and beyond.
"Preparations for the ballot are under way," he added.
A Nexus spokesman said: "We have worked hard with all our trades unions to agree a pay settlement which provides a fair deal for staff within the limits of public sector pay restraint by which Nexus is bound.
"We are still talking to the RMT to understand and address the issues its members have with our offer in order to avoid a ballot for industrial action."
The light rail system opened in 1980 and currently has 60 stations spanning Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside and Sunderland.