Weymouth bus drivers have accused management of endangering the town’s lucrative tourism industry by refusing to negotiate in the long-running ‘poverty pay’ dispute.
Unite, the country’s largest union, today (Tuesday 5 July) announced three more days of strike action next week, the fourth week running, for the drivers, based at Weymouth and Bridport.
The union made a plea for businesses to put pressure on First Hampshire & Dorset Ltd to limit the damage to the tourism industry which injects more than £230 million-a-year into the Weymouth and Bridport economies, as well as supporting 6,300 jobs directly.
More than 110 drivers are already striking for four days this week in the eight month dispute over ‘poverty pay’, which sees them being paid less than other First Bus drivers in the West Country and by rival firms in Bournemouth and Poole.
Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said: “We are very concerned that the hard line adopted by the management will have an adverse impact on the lucrative tourism industry which contributes more than £230 million-a-year to the Weymouth and Bridport economies, as well as supporting about 6,300 jobs directly.
“Our members live locally and want the Weymouth and Bridport economies to prosper, however they can’t afford to live on poverty wages; especially as First Group recently chalked up a £52 million profit for its UK-wide bus division.
“Unite calls on businesses and those who rely on the tourism industry to put pressure on the management to enter into constructive negotiations.
“The company needs to look at the wider picture for the Dorset economy and not to be narrowly blinkered in their stance in trying to harshly squeeze our members until the pips squeak.
“Unite’s door is open 24/7 to get this dispute solved after eight months – it is time for the management to talk constructively.”
The strikes will run from 04:30 on Wednesday 13 July, ending at 04:29 hours on Thursday 14 July; starting at 04:30 on Friday 15 July, ending 04:29 hours on Saturday 16 July; and from 04:30 hours on Sunday 17 July, concluding 04:29 hours on Monday 18 July.
Unite argues that First Group is a very profitable UK company that can afford to reward its Bristol drivers with a 13 per cent increase, but for its employees in Weymouth and Bridport the deal on the table is only 2.3 per cent over two years from August 2015.
The Weymouth and Bridport drivers earn about £18,300-a-year – or £8.80 an hour, while First Group drivers in Yeovil are on £9.50 per hour. Drivers working for rival firms in Bournemouth and Poole earn nearly £2 an hour more.
Nearly 90 per cent of the drivers voted in favour of strike action.
Notes to editors:
According to research by The South West Research Company, there was a total visitor related spend of £183,290,000 in Weymouth in 2013, supporting 5,000 jobs. In Bridport and West Bay, the total visitor related spend was £56,691,000 in 2013, supporting 1,300 jobs.
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.