Officials of Britain’s biggest union, Unite, confirmed today (Monday 8 June) that they will be entering into talks at the conciliation service Acas with bus company Abellio Surrey in a bid to avert strike action in a dispute over terms and conditions.
Bus drivers are angry over unilateral moves by Abellio Surrey to tear up a two-year agreement covering pay and terms and conditions that was signed in 2014.
Last year, the company agreed to increase the new starter rate to £11.11 per hour and to reduce the time drivers had to serve before qualifying for full pay from two years to 21 months.
Earlier this year bosses backtracked on the deal by imposing a far lower starter rate of £9.46 per hour, with no further negotiation, saying that drivers on it would never qualify for the full rate of £11.90 per hour.
Unite represents over 100 drivers at the Dutch government owned Abellio Surrey and is threatening strike action on the 11, 12, 15 and 16 June if there is no breakthrough in talks.
Commenting, Unite regional officer Dave Weeks said: “Bus drivers, who voted overwhelmingly for strike action, feel betrayed by the company's high-handed and dishonest approach. They do not understand how Abellio can break its word so lightly.
“The company's changes to the agreement mean that new drivers, often with exactly the same qualifications and doing exactly the same job as higher-paid colleagues, will be paid £1.65 less than they should be under the agreement.
“To add insult to injury the company has also said that they will no longer qualify for the higher full rate, which should be theirs after 18 month’s service with the company.
“We would urge management to see sense, to enter into talks at Acas in a positive manner and avoid strike action by honouring the previous agreement.”
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.