Go North East face a series of strikes across the North East from Friday 15 March over a below inflation pay offer from the bus company which is forecast to make £7.4 million in profits this year.
The company offered a two per cent pay increase for 2012/3 which was rejected by the drivers. The company then made a second offer - a two year deal - which simply repeated Go North East's original offer for 2012/3 plus an offer of 2.5 per cent in 2013/4. Predictably, the offer was rejected.
In 2012 Go North East made £7.2 million in profit and is on target to make £7.4 million in 2013.
Go North East bus drivers earn £18,500 a year compared to Tyne and Wear Metro drivers who earn approximately £40,000.
Unite regional officer Fazia Hussain-Brown said:
"The Go North East bus network is on target to make millions in profits this year but the company is refusing to negotiate a fair pay deal for drivers who earn less than half the pay of drivers on the Metro.
"The company's below inflation pay offer means a pay cut in real terms when prices are going up. The drivers take home £240 a week, they are struggling to support their families, with some having to rely on benefits.
"We urge the company to return to the negotiating table to agree a pay deal which recognises the contribution the drivers are making to Go North East. We want the company to be successful, but the workers who make the company a success should get their fair share.
"The drivers have already rejected a two per cent pay offer. Yet the company believed it was sensible to simply repeat the same offer for 2012/3 again - this is not a constructive way to approach negotiations. We urge the company to get serious about ending this dispute."
The depots in dispute are all Go North East depots with discontinuous strike action consisting of a series of 24 hour stoppages as follows:
commencing at 04:00 hours on Friday, 15th March 2013.
commencing at 04:00 hours on Monday, 18th March 2013.
commencing at 04:00 hours on Saturday, 23rd March 2013.
60 per cent of drivers voted in favour of industrial action in a strike in a ballot with a high turn out of 77 per cent.
Contact: Ciaran Naidoo 017768 931 315
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey
1435 ballot papers were sent out. 1111 ballot papers were returned.
Invalid ballot papers 0
Valid papers 1111
672 voted yes, 439 voted no