Talks to solve the drivers’ pay dispute between First Hampshire and Dorset, and Unite, the country’s largest union, continue next week – but two strike days have been called, if negotiations break down.
The 60 drivers are becoming increasingly frustrated by the company’s failure to reach a settlement and Unite has called two 24 hour strikes for Thursday 6 February and Monday 10 February that would hit the Bridport, Portland and Weymouth areas.
Talks were held yesterday (Wednesday 29 January) and more negotiations are scheduled for Monday (3 February) – and the strike announced for that day (Monday) has been suspended.
The dispute centres on the pay of the drivers, currently on £8.30 an hour, compared with their regional colleagues, such as drivers on Yellow Buses in Bournemouth who earn more than £10 an hour.
Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said: “Talks are continuing on Monday and Unite is working very hard to achieve a fair settlement, however, our members are becoming increasingly frustrated at the slow pace of negotiations from the management side.
“Because our members think that the firm is dragging its feet, Unite has announced two days of strike action on 6 and 10 February. If the strikes go ahead, they will start at 04.30 and run for 24 hours from that time.
“The issue here is very clear; other regional bus operators are offering much better rates of pay as our members really struggle to meet ends meet because of the cost of living crisis.”
The management has offered 1.5 per cent for April 2013 - April 2014 which would take the pay to £8.50 an hour – however, the company wants to claw back that rise by eroding terms and conditions, such as reduced sick pay, so the deal was self-financing.
The drivers held a successful a 24 hour strike on 20 January on this issue.
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1
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.