Unite says management inflaming situation by angering workers with strike breaking tactics – only an improved pay offer can avoid strikes 

National Express stand accused of trying to intimidate workers planning to strike:

  • By dragging individuals into one-to-one meetings and brow beating them about putting the local community at risk by striking;

  • Sending text messages to workers’ phones demanding to know if they intend to strike and misleading them about the current wage offer;

  • Threatening job losses and widespread garage closures if industrial action goes ahead 

National Express stands accused of engaging in a concerted union-busting campaign in an attempt to break a strike by almost 3,500 West Midlands bus workers. Unite members at National Express will begin indefinite all-out strike action next week on Thursday 16 March, in an increasingly bitter pay dispute.

Despite an overwhelming vote for strike action, the company is also trying to split the workforce by deliberately misleading workers about how much their pay will increase and accusing Unite of refusing to let members have ‘the right to have your say’ (see notes to editors). 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “National Express’ disgraceful campaign of bullying and union-busting has only strengthened our members’ determination to win a fair pay deal. Attempting to strike break will just make matters worse for the company. The workers voted overwhelmingly to take strike action because they know this extremely wealthy company has undoubtedly got more than enough money to afford a decent wage increase. There is only one solution: National Express must put forward an offer that our members can accept.”

Between 2018 and 2021, average pay at National Express for West Midlands’ bus workers fell by six per cent in real terms with the gap increasing even further, in 2022, because of rocketing prices. Meanwhile, over the last 10 years, National Express paid its CEO an average annual salary of £2.6 million. Last week, the company boasted to the Stock Exchange that last year revenues had increased 29 per cent to £2.8 billion, with operating profits more than doubling to touching £200 million.   

At the same time as the company has engaged in trying to break the upcoming strikes, it invited Unite into pay talks on Monday. The pay talks did not result in a satisfactory deal being put forward to Unite’s members. 

Unite regional officer Sulinder Singh said: “Unite is negotiating with National Express in good faith. We expect the company to do the same. That means ending the attempts to pick off individual workers in attempt to break the strike. Unite stands ready to engage in constructive talks, but National Express must stop this strike breaking campaign and put forward an improved offer.” 


Notes to editors:

National Express claims drivers pay will increase by 19 per cent over the year. According to the company, this includes a latest offer of 13.4 per cent, on top of a six per cent pay deal in November. 

Unite refutes these claims: the company have offered drivers 11.1 per cent plus a one-off payment of £630. Moreover, the company’s claims of a six per cent pay deal in November are also incorrect. The November agreement addressed issues around work schedules and terms and conditions – any subsequent increase in pay from November was a result of workers being paid properly due to issues being corrected.

National Express also claims that Unite is refusing to put its latest offer to members in a vote. A very clear mandate has been given by the workforce during consultations with members and their workplace reps on the minimum that would be accepted. National Express’ latest offer does not reach that minimum and would be rejected.

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

Email: [email protected] 

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Web: unitetheunion.org

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