Swindon bus depot joins Stagecoach West low pay dispute
- Tuesday 1 February 2022
Swindon bus drivers are to be balloted for strike action after joining a dispute over low pay, which is already affecting the rest of Stagecoach West’s operations.
The 70 drivers, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, will be balloted for strike action. The drivers in Swindon are paid barely £12 an hour for what is a highly demanding and responsible role.
A fair day's pay
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Bus drivers in Swindon are simply seeking a fair day’s pay. Stagecoach is an extremely profitable company and it can well afford to pay its drivers a decent rate.
“Unite is the union which always puts the jobs, pay and conditions of its members first. Our members at Stagecoach West will be receiving the union’s total support until their battle to combat low pay is resolved.”
The ballot opens on Tuesday 7 February and closes on Tuesday 21 February. If the drivers vote in favour of industrial action then strikes could begin next month.
Unite is already balloting workers at six garages (Bristol, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Stroud, Coalway and Ross-on-Wye) in the dispute over pay. There are now over 380 bus drivers involved in the dispute.
The formal ballot for industrial action for the Swindon drivers started later than the other six depots as Unite delayed moving towards formal action until Stagecoach West submitted its final offer and members were balloted on whether to accept or reject it.
If strike action goes ahead it will cause widespread disruption to bus services throughout Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.
Strikes a last resort
Unite regional officer Shevaun Hunt said: “Bus drivers are balloting for strike action as a last resort. Unite exhausted all attempts to resolve the dispute through negotiations.
“Unite understands that strikes will cause huge disruption to bus services across Gloucestershire and Wiltshire but despite offering to hold fresh meetings to seek a resolution to the dispute, management at Stagecoach West have failed to offer any new dates.”
The industrial dispute in the South West follows similar disputes that Unite bus workers have undertaken with different Stagecoach operations throughout the UK over pay. As a result of these industrial disputes, workers have secured noteworthy pay rises.
Stagecoach operates under the title of the Cheltenham and Gloucester Omnibus Ltd in the area. Despite pleading poverty Stagecoach’s parent 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.
Bus driver shortages
A recent UK wide survey of Unite members in the sector revealed that bus driver shortages are far higher than had previously been claimed and that 79 per cent said that vacancies at their depot had increased since the pandemic began. The most common explanation for drivers leaving was low rates of pay.
During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.
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.