Parts of Lancashire and Liverpool could face severe disruption this autumn if bus workers employed by Ribble Motor Services Ltd, part of the Stagecoach group, vote for strike action over pay.

Poor pay offer

The company is refusing to make a pay offer which in anyway meets members aspirations for the current financial year and is blaming the Covid pandemic for its actions.

The company’s stance has infuriated the workforce who have continued to work throughout successive lockdowns, in order to ensure that key workers could get to work, at times risking their health and that of their families.

Hundreds of members

The ballot covers hundreds of workers who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, based at the company’s depots in Preston, Chorley and Gilmoss. At Preston and Chorley Unite is just balloting bus drivers, while at Gilmoss cleaners and engineers are also part of the industrial action ballot.

The ballot opens today (Monday 6 September) and closes on Monday 20 September. If members vote for industrial action then strikes could begin in mid-October.

Profitable company

Despite Stagecoach pleading poverty the company remains extremely profitable, notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic its latest accounts reveal that the group made a profit of £58.4 million and it has £875 million of available liquidity.

In addition to a substantial pay increase the workers are also seeking an improvement in sick pay as the pandemic has demonstrated when workers are ill they must be able to afford to isolate in order to keep colleagues safe.

Growing dispute

Stagecoach’s attitude on pay is mirrored across the UK and unless the company quickly changes its approach, further industrial action ballots are expected in the coming weeks.

No option

Unite regional officer Alison Spencer-Scragg said: Our members realise that strike action will cause huge disruption to passengers across Lancashire and Liverpool. Stopping services is the last thing they want to do. 

 “However workers feel that they are left with no option as the management have refused to put forward an adequate pay increase.

 “Bus workers were hailed as heroes during the previous lockdowns, however Stagecoach also need to reward this dedication with a decent pay award. 

 “Stagecoach has the ability to prevent strikes from occurring and the resulting disruption to passengers by returning to the negotiating table and making a decent offer.”

“Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers' living standards.”

 ENDS

Notes to editors:

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

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.