Weymouth bus drivers in Dorset, fed up with being the ‘poor relations’ in the First Group ‘family’, will be going on strike for a week against ‘poverty’ wages.
More than 110 drivers, based at Weymouth and Bridport, members of Unite will strike from 4am on Monday, June 20 until 03:59am on Saturday, June 25.
Unite said that there will be severe disruption to the travelling public, but puts the blame on the management which has been dragging its feet for seven months in pay negotiations.
Unite argues that First Group is a very profitable UK company that can afford to reward its Bristol drivers with a 13 per cent increase, but for its employees in Weymouth the deal on the table is only 2.3 per cent over two years from August 2015.
The Weymouth and Bridport drivers earn about £18,300-a-year – or £8.80 an hour, while First Group drivers in Yeovil are on £9.50 per hour. Drivers working for rival firms in Bournemouth and Poole earn nearly £2 an hour more.
“What we have here is a situation where the drivers in Weymouth and Poole are the poor relations, when compared with the pay of other drivers working for First Group,” said Unite regional officer Bob Lanning.
“We have been negotiating since last December on a pay deal which should have started last August. Our members are fed up with the unfair and unequal treatment being meted out by the bosses year in, year out.
“Our members regret the disruption to the public that will be caused by this strike, but they have been pushed against the wall with years of insulting pay increases for the responsible job that they do,” he added.
“Unite’s door for talks is always open, but the mood of our members is very angry, so the management will have to come to the table with a constructive offer to rectify the pay anomalies, compared with other drivers in the First Group domain.”
Nearly 90 per cent of the drivers voted in favour of strike action.