Bus passengers in Gloucestershire and the South West face substantial disruption to their journeys from next month if bus drivers employed by Stagecoach vote for strike action in a dispute over pay.

The dispute involves around 360 bus drivers based at depots in Bristol, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Stroud, Coalway, and Ross-on-Wye.

The drivers are taking action to combat low rates of pay. Many of them are paid under £11 an hour, for what is a highly skilled, responsible and demanding role.

Low pay

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Low pay is the scourge of the bus industry. That's why Unite has been relentless in its campaign to ensure that our members at Stagecoach receive a fair pay increase.

“Unite is the union which always puts the jobs, pay and conditions of its members first. The union will be giving our members at Stagecoach West its full support until this dispute is resolved.”

Ballot dates

The ballot opens on Tuesday 25 January and closes on Thursday 10 February. If the drivers vote in favour of industrial action strikes could begin before the end of February.

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.

Profitable company

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 accounts reveal that the group made a profit of £58.4 million and it has £875 million of available liquidity.

Unite has moved to a full industrial action ballot following the failure of numerous pay talks with the company to produce a pay offer that members believed was acceptable.

Dispute can be resolved

Unite regional officer Shevaun Hunt said: “If strike action goes ahead it will inevitably cause disruption to bus passengers across the region. However this dispute is entirely of Stagecoach’s own making it can afford to make a fair pay offer but it has chosen not to.

 “Unite is fully committed to further talks to resolve this dispute. It simply requires Stagecoach to return to the negotiating table with a pay offer which meets members’ expectations.”

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.