The RMT Union says it had no option but to call for strike action on the Tyne and Wear Metro this month.
Workers have proposed strike action on June 7 and 21 - the same dates as planned Coldplay and Bruce Springsteen concerts at the Stadium of Light.
The disruption is expected to affect people travelling to the stadium, as well as thousands of commuters getting to and from work.
Union bosses say they risk losing public support by holding the strikes, but that it was their only option.
Micky Thompson from RMT Union said: "We've tried to negotiate with the employer. The employer has closed the doors and made their position clear. There is no further amendment.
"We have to taken it to our membership. Our membership have said it's not acceptable and we want to do something about it.
"The situation with the concerts has come up. It's given us a position of strength and we've utitlised this to our advantage. Hence why discussions have now been forthcoming for June 4.
"So hopefully sense will prevail and they'll come back and offer something substantial in respect of rates and pay and conditions of service, and we won't have to disrupt the concerts."
More top news
A look ahead at the forecast for the Tyne Tees region.
Tributes have been paid to a man who died after collapsing and falling into the river in Durham at the weekend.
Stephen Miller's twentieth senior international season got underway last week at the Fazza International Athletics Competition in Dubai.