Unite, the country’s largest union, has today announced that workers at Optare, the Leeds-based supplier to some of the country’s biggest bus and coach companies, will start industrial action on Friday 23 May, over plans to force the workforce to take two weeks’ annual leave in the height of the summer season.
170 Unite members, working at Optare’s Sherburn site in Elmet have returned a resounding ‘yes’ vote in favour of strike (81 per cent) with 88 per cent voting in favour of action short of strike over the company’s two week summer shutdown proposals, which will see workers forced to take their annual leave in the middle of August when the average price of a family holiday is up to 92 per cent higher in some cases.
Strike action, which begins on Friday at 12:00 when a continuous work to rule is put in place followed by two 24 hour dis-continuous stoppages on Tuesday 27 May and Monday 2 June respectively, will hit production and limit the number of deliveries accepted, warns Unite.
The union said that Optare, which is a global leader in the design, manufacture and sale of single and double decker buses for both the UK and global markets, has left the 170 strong workforce with no choice but to take action following the company’s failure to accept a number of alternatives and compromises to resolve the dispute. Unite remains willing to talk.
Richard Bedford, Unite regional officer, said: “The union’s members are taking strike action with a heavy heart but Optare’s plans to force hard pressed workers to take their annual leave when the average price of a family holiday is considerably higher is a step too far.
“Despite offering a number of alternatives and compromises, including a shorter period of shutdown to resolve the dispute, the company has refused to budge, leaving the workforce with no choice but to take action.
“Our members have previously enjoyed flexibility in their holiday entitlement but are now being forced to take annual leave in the high summer season when the average price of a summer holiday is a great deal higher. Many will simply be unable to take a break at this time in the season. For example, a four night stay at Woburn Forest Bedfordshire lodge accommodation is 51 per cent higher in August than when off-peak.
“Unite is calling on Optare to get back around the table to find a solution so that workers can get back to the job of making buses and coaches.”
For further information please contact Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774146777 and/or the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.
- 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