Unite, the country’s largest union, which represents bus drivers in Weymouth and Bridport, is waiting to hear if the company will agree to the terms of reference for arbitration talks under the auspices of the conciliation service, Acas.
Unite today (Wednesday 17 August) issued a ‘Why are we waiting?’ call to the management of First Hampshire & Dorset Ltd to respond to the arbitration offer for talks aimed at ending the two-month dispute into ‘poverty pay’ for the more than 110 drivers.
Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said: “We are keen to get the arbitration process rolling, but the company has yet to agree the terms of reference.
“I think our members and the local community have every right to ask: ‘Why are we waiting?’
“Our members are on strike this week and have five days of strike action planned next week.
“Given the company’s bad faith throughout this dispute, the drivers won’t even consider suspending the strikes until we have a copper-bottomed agreement for a date for the Acas talks.”
Unite said a key example of the company’s bad faith was exposed last month when the company, part of the highly profitable First Group, was revealed to be docking company sick pay on strike days for cancer sufferers and those with serious heart conditions, even though they had been ‘signed off’ sick by their GP.
The five new days of strike action start at 04:30 on 22 August, concluding at 04:29 on 23 August 2016; at 04:30 on 24 August, concluding 04:29 on 25 August and from 04:30 on 26 August, concluding 04:29 on 29 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.
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.