Drivers demand three-part offer comes in one instalment 

Pay strikes by around 360 bus drivers employed by First Manchester will intensify during July following a renewed ‘sub par’ offer, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Friday). 

First Manchester, which pays drivers a pound less an hour than the region’s other bus operators, revised its previous two-part offer with a three-part deal. The split would see a rise backdated from April, with another implemented from October and a final one in January. 

The drivers have been clear that they expect any pay deal to be implemented fully from April. On top of difficult working conditions, including a lack of access to toilets, long shifts and exhaustion from looking after the safety of thousands of passengers in busy built-up areas, the drivers often face physical and verbal abuse.

Historically low pay has also caused chronic staff shortages, leaving drivers at First Manchester with unsustainable workloads. 

First Manchester can afford to put forward a pay offer that would be accepted by the drivers. First Groups’ 2022 annual report, released earlier this month, shows that operating profits increased by more than £6 million to £226.8 million. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “First Manchester can dress it up anyway they want but the fact is the drivers will not accept a split pay deal. It’s not like they can pay their rent and supermarket bills in three instalments. 

“The company can afford to come back with a deal that takes into account the strains of the job and the cost of living and which is implemented in one go. Our First Manchester members have Unite’s full backing as they strike to achieve that.”

The drivers began strike action on 3 and 4 July and are striking today (7 July). Strike action is also scheduled to take place on 10 and 13 July, with new dates set for 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 28 July. Industrial action will intensify further if the dispute is not resolved. 

Unite regional officer Colin Hayden said: “First Manchester are responsible for the disruption caused to passengers. The company has been told repeatedly that their drivers will not accept a split pay deal when it is abundantly clear First is making millions in profits. The company needs to return to negotiations with an offer our members can accept.” 


For media enquires ONLY contact senior Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215 or 020 3371 2065. 

Email: [email protected]

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