Britain’s largest union Unite expressed ‘bitter disappointment’ over bus operator First Dorset’s ‘game playing’ on attempts to resolve a long running dispute today (Thursday 25 August), as it confirmed a series of strikes hitting bus routes in Weymouth and Bridport were set to go ahead.
Eight stoppages starting tomorrow (26 August), the 27, 28, 30 and 31 of August as well as 2, 3 and 4 September are set to go ahead if no breakthrough can be found to resolve the dispute which is primarily focused on pay.
Having agreed to go to binding arbitration, Unite was dismayed by last minute preconditions that First Dorset sought to attach to the process, including a ban on industrial action.
Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said: “It’s deeply disappointing that First Dorset continue to distort the facts with untruths. This dispute should have been settled weeks ago, but attempts by Unite to do so have been hindered by First Dorset’s unwillingness to enter into meaningful talks alongside its continued attacks on staff.
“These attacks have included a refusal to pay contractual company sick pay, a refusal to give staff payslips, as well as not allowing drivers their full scheduled break if their bus has been running late during this busy time of year.
“Unite has agreed to go to arbitration which means by its very definition that both parties will be bound by that decision. We have therefore been dismayed by First’s insistence to substantially alter the arbitration’s terms of reference with unrealistic preconditions, rather than engaging constructively with Unite to resolve this long running dispute.
“To be clear Unite has not tabled new demands. As First Dorset knows only too well, pay is just one of a number of concerns that Unite has sought to resolve from day one of this dispute.
“What little faith workers have in First Dorset is being turned to dust which could ultimately lead to an exodus of skilled drivers and recruitment and retention problems for the bus operator.
“We would urge First Dorset’s management to stop the game playing and drop its belligerent refusal to negotiate meaningfully and resolve this dispute which is causing disruption for the travelling public.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
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.