Weymouth bus bosses have been accused of ‘broken promises and bad faith’ as a further four days of strike action from 27 June were announced to follow on from this week’s strike in the ‘poor relations’ pay dispute.
More than 110 drivers, based at Weymouth and Bridport, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, started striking yesterday (Monday 20 June) until 03:59 on Saturday (25 June).
Four days of further strike action have been announced, as Unite accused the management at First Hampshire & Dorset Ltd of twice offering to improve the pay and then refusing to budge once the talks convened.
Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said: “We are faced with an intolerable situation where twice in the last 10 days the management have said that they would come to the table with an improved offer – and on both occasions they have not budged.
“This dispute is being pockmarked by the management’s bad faith and broken promises. As a result, we are calling four more days of strike action next week as our members are very angry at the management’s duplicity.”
The strikes will run from at 04:30 on Monday 27 June, ending at 04:29 on Tuesday 28 June; from 04:30 on Wednesday 29 June until 04:29 hours on Thursday 30 June; from 04:30 on Friday 1 July ending at 04:29 on Saturday 2 July; and from 04:30 on Sunday 3 July until 04:29 on Monday 4 July.
Weymouth bus drivers in Dorset and Bridport are fed up with being the ‘poor relations’ in the First Group ‘family’. 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.
Bob Lanning added: “Unite‘s door for talks is always open, but the negotiations must be genuine from the management side.
“We know that the strikes are causing inconvenience for the travelling public – striking is the last thing our members want, but they are fed up with being the ‘poor relations’ when it comes to pay compared with other First Bus drivers in the West Country.
“First Bus is a profitable company and only last week announced a UK-wide profit for its bus division of £52 million – the money is there, but, not apparently, for our lowly paid members.”
Nearly 90 per cent of the drivers voted in favour of strike action.
Notes to editors:
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.