The operators of the Metro tram network in Newcastle could be landed with a £1m compensation bill if a group of staff win a equal pay claim.
A dozen female Nexus employees are taking the transport operator to court demanding seven years of back pay. They claim they have been victims of discrimination, according to local newspaper reports.
The women are employed as Metro Operators and earn £21,000 a year. But they say they do the same job as Metro Drivers and should get paid the same wage, £27,000.
They are pursuing a claim under the ‘equal pay for work of equal value’ rules.
If they win, it could open the way for 68 others to take action.
Solicitor Stefan Cross, who is representing 11 of the 12 women, said the Metro Operator role was introduced in 1998 to create a more flexible workforce. He said that 25% of the workforce was women who are victims of discrimination.
He told the Newcastle Evening Chronicle: “The Metro created a new grade called a Metro Operator. Before 1998 there were 140 drivers where four or five were women. But in the new group of staff 25% are women.
“What you have is two groups of staff who drive trains for the Metro. One group gets paid around £27,000 and the other group is getting around £21,000.
“They are doing the same job but one group is almost all men and one is mostly men but with 25 per cent women.”
The tribunal, which is being held in Newcastle, is expected to last two weeks.