Workers paid below industry standard at Leeds-based bus manufacturer Optare have voted in favour of strike action over the company’s ‘broken promise’ to provide a pay increase for 2019 and 2020, Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Monday 5 October). 

Unite said the bus-maker, 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 refused ‘point-blank’ to honour an August 2019 pledge to implement a pay rise by November of that year.

The union said the company, owned by the UK’s second richest men – billionaires Srichand, Gopichand and Prakash Hinduja – had left its more than 100 Optare members with no choice but to take strike action after repeatedly postponing planned pay negotiations since November 2019. 

Unite members, whose hourly rates are significantly less than those of staff at comparable firms, voted 73 per cent in favour of strike action and industrial action short of a strike at Optare’s factory in Sherburn in Elmet. 

A continuous overtime ban will begin on Thursday 15 October and will be followed by a series of 48-hour discontinuous stoppages that will limit production and the number of deliveries accepted (see editor notes for details). 

Unite regional officer Richard Bedford said: “The decision to strike is never taken lightly, especially in the current climate, but our members have reached the end of their tether with Optare’s point blank refusal to honour its word.

“Optare’s staff, who are paid well below industry standard, are loyal and put their all into the company. They are simply asking for a reasonable pay rise and have been pushed into taking this action because of Optare’s broken promises.

“The situation has been made worse because staff have agreed to defer pay negotiations on a number of occasions at the company's request. Their good faith has been rewarded with the runaround resulting in a complete refusal to provide the promised pay increase. 

“There is still time to avoid disruption to the business and 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.”

ENDS

Notes to editors: 

Discontinuous strike action at Optare will take place on:

  • 00:01 hours on 15 October 2020, concluding at 23:59 hours on 16 October 2020    

  • 00:01 hours on 22October 2020, concluding at 23:59 hours on 23 October 2020    

  • 00:01 hours on 29October 2020, concluding at 23:59 hours on 30 October 2020    

  • 00:01 hours on 5 November 2020, concluding at 23:59 hours on 6 November 2020   

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.