Company unjustly calling police to try and harass strikers and threatening jobs

More reports have emerged of union busting bullying at National Express after strikes by more than 3,100 bus drivers began this week, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Wednesday).

Workers are increasingly angry over the company’s strike breaking tactics, which include unjustly calling the police to peaceful picket lines and threatening striking workers with job losses and route closures. In response, Unite today launched a freephone hotline on 0808 164 0368 for workers to report instances of intimidation in relation to the dispute.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members are rock solid in their determination to win a pay rise that reflects the difficulty of their roles and soaring living costs. They know that National Express can absolutely afford to pay it. 

“The company’s bully boy tactics to break the strike will only result in worsening the dispute and Unite will make sure National Express is held fully accountable for any intimidation of our members. There is only one way to end this: National Express must put forward an offer that is acceptable to our members.” 

As well as misusing the police service and issuing job and route threats, fresh reports have also emerged of:

  • Workers being told they will be barred from overtime in the future because they went on strike
  • Workers who are not taking strike action have also been told they will face disciplinary action if they refuse to cross a picket line

Earlier this month, Unite accused National Express of: 

  • Dragging individuals into one-to-one meetings to brow beat them into not taking strike action
  • Sending text messages demanding to know if workers were going to strike
  • Attempting to force Unite into endorsing a deal it knew members would not accept
  • Interfering in the union’s democratic processes by trying to prevent a workplace ballot on the pay offer, which was subsequently rejected by members  

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. Earlier this month, 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. 

A National Express bus driver’s starting salary begins at just £11.80 an hour, progressing to just over £14 after three years of service. Meanwhile Abellio workers in London are paid £18 an hour after two years of service, which more closely reflects the difficulties and pressures that come with the job (see notes to editors). 

Unite national lead officer Onay Kasab said: “National Express needs to put forward an improved offer that reflects the difficulties of the role our members undertake. 

“Our members do not want to strike but have been forced to by the company, who bear full responsibility the for disruption being caused. National Express can afford to put forward a fair pay offer and that is what needs to happen.”


Notes to editors:

One National Express bus driver said“I’ve had bricks thrown at my bus, and I’ve had lads spray paint all over my bus and even in my face. I’ve had to take time off work for that.” 

Another National Express bus driver said“We get threatened, we get abuse, spat at sometimes. We get all that, day in day out."

A third National Express driver said: “I’ll be at work for 12 hours, drive nine of those but because of the way pay is worked out I’ll get wages for just seven and a half hours. It’s split shifts so I can start work 4am one day and on another I’ll be finishing at 10pm. A lot of the time, I’m driving continuously for five and a half hours and there’s no access to a toilet. No wonder there’s always a shortage of drivers.”

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

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Instagram: unitetheunion


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