Three-part offer must come in one instalment or strikes will continue to intensify

Pay strikes by around 360 bus drivers employed by First Manchester are to stretch into August, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Tuesday). 

First Manchester, which pays drivers a pound an hour less than the region’s other bus operators, has offered 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.

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

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “First has millions in the bank and is penny pinching – much to the detriment of the travelling public. The amount it would cost to implement a single pay deal is water off a duck’s back to the company. 

“To First Manchester’s struggling drivers, however, receiving a full pay rise in one go will help relieve the financial pressures they are under from rising prices and historic low pay. Our members do a tough job, First Manchester needs to acknowledge that by providing a no-strings pay deal.”

Previously announced strike action will take place on 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 28 July. Further strikes have now been announced for 31 July and 2, 4, 7, 10 and 11 August. More strikes will be called if First Manchester does not put forward an improved pay offer.  

Unite regional officer Colin Hayden said: “First’s drivers do not want to strike but the company has left them with no choice. This situation could have been resolved weeks ago were it not for First Manchester’s bull headedness and greed. The company must come back with an offer that meets our members’ expectations.”


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.