All out strikes from 16 March over pay cut called on same day firm reports pocketing billions

More than 3,000 National Express West Midlands bus drivers have voted overwhelmingly to strike over pay, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Thursday).

The workers, who voted by 96 per cent for industrial action, will begin all out continuous strike action on Thursday 16 March

They will be joined by over 200 National Express engineers who voted for industrial action over pay in January, bringing the total number of striking workers to more than 3,300. 

National Express’ operating profits, released today, have more than doubled compared to the previous year. The company reported revenue increased by 29 per cent to £2.8 billion. Its underlying operating profits more than doubled to £197.3 million, fuelled by an increase in passenger demand across the group. 

Despite this, it has offered all of its workers in the West Midlands, where it holds a monopoly on local bus services, a real terms pay cut. Some drivers earn as little as £11.80 per hour. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “National Express is sitting on mountains of cash and can absolutely afford to give a pay rise to its staff that reflects rocketing living costs. It needs to do just that. Unite defends our members jobs, pay and conditions to the hilt and the National Express workforce has their union’s total and unflinching support during these strikes.” 

National Express had claimed it offered drivers a 14 per cent rise, however the deal was in fact worth just eight per cent. Drivers have since been offered 11.1 per cent on basic pay, while engineers have been offered 11.5 per cent. 

With the real rate of inflation, RPI, at 13.4 per cent, the offers constitute a pay cut. The situation has been made worse by the below industry standard wages paid by the company.

The strikes will severely impact National Express West Midlands’ services, which cover 93 per cent of the region’s bus network, including in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Walsall, Dudley and West Bromwich.  

Unite regional officer Sulinder Singh said: “National Express’ greed is the reason why the entire West Midland’s bus network will be shut down and it bears the responsibility for the disruption that will be caused. Our members do not want to strike but National Express has left them with no choice. The company needs to put forward an offer that our members can accept – it can clearly afford to.” 


For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.

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.