The Solent area has been warned to expect significant disruption over the August bank holiday weekend as bus workers employed by First South take strike action over pay.

Cost of living crisis 

The dispute is a result of the company refusing to make a reasonable cost of living payment to its workers, who are struggling to make ends meet on low wages. Drivers are paid just £12 an hour, while the lowest earners at the company receive just £11.03 an hour. The company has refused to negotiate on the issue.

The four days of strike action which will involve 185 members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, will begin at 03:00 on Friday 25 August and end at 03:00 on Tuesday 29 August.

Bare faced cheek

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “First Group has a bare faced cheek. This is a company awash with money and yet it refuses to give its workers a decent increase to offset rampant inflation. Our members who play a vital role keeping the South coast moving are increasingly unable to make ends meet.

“Unite is entirely focussed on the jobs, pay and conditions of its members. The workers at First South will receive Unite’s unflinching support.”

Solent area

Strike action will affect bus routes across the entire Solent area including Portsmouth, Southampton as well as Cosham, Fareham, Gosport and Paulsgrove. The strike will also coincide with the Victorious music festival in Southsea.

Bus operator First Group, which owns First South is incredibly wealthy. Its recent annual report revealed that operating profits increased by more than £6 million to £226.8 million. 

Disruption inevitable 

Unite regional officer Ian Woodland said: “Strike action will inevitably cause severe disruption, but the company has brought this dispute on itself. Unite has repeatedly tried to negotiate but the employer has flatly refused to engage with us.”


Notes to editors

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.