Unite, the country’s largest union which represents bus drivers in Weymouth and Bridport, has offered to go to arbitration in a bid to solve the ‘poverty pay’ dispute.
The union said that it contacted the conciliation service Acas yesterday (Thursday 11 August) saying that it was prepared to go to arbitration in the long-running dispute with First Hampshire & Dorset Ltd.
Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said: “I was in contact with Acas yesterday offering to go to arbitration. This offer should finally put the nail in the coffin of misleading claims by the company that Unite is not prepared to go to arbitration.
“We have always been prepared to go to arbitration as long as any package hammered out under the auspices of Acas is put to the drivers, which is normal industrial relations’ practice.
“It is the democratic process of voting on any proposed deal that seems to irk the management so much.
“The ball is now in the company’s court and, if these talks go ahead, the process will take about two weeks to set-up. I think public opinion locally would expect the company to take up the arbitration offer.”
Unite said that a further week of strike action, already announced, would still go-ahead, starting at 04.30 on Monday (15 August) and ending on 04.29 Monday 22 August.
Unite has said that the pay dispute would cost just £48,000-a-year to settle, while the losses caused by the two month-old dispute are now £250,000 plus and could reach £500,000, if the industrial action continues for three months
Notes to editors:
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.
Nearly 90 per cent of the drivers voted in favour of strike action.
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.