Manchester mayor accelerates bus franchising plans

Unite welcomes Greater Manchester’s bus franchising announcement as ‘the first step’ towards eradicating low pay

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Unite, which represents over 70,000 bus workers, has welcomed the decision of Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham to accelerate his plans to introduce bus franchising in the city region.

In the announcement today (March 14) Mr Burnham has said that bus franchising will begin to be introduced into parts of Greater Manchester in the autumn of 2023, with the entire city region benefiting from the new system by the autumn of 2024.

Unite welcomes the introduction of franchising as it believes it will end the cut throat competition between companies to secure the most profitable routes, to the detriment of workers, and will ensure that the needs of passengers and the local community are properly considered.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Franchising is the first step on the road to creating a level playing field for bus workers’ employment and should be used to eradicate low pay in the sector.

“Unite will seek to ensure that minimum employment standards are included in tender documents to end the misery caused by companies slashing workers’ pay and conditions in a race to the bottom in order to boost their profits.”

Unite has been working with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to ensure that the introduction of franchising does not result in the reduction of any of the terms and conditions of bus workers in Greater Manchester. In addition the union is also developing a set of minimum standards which it hopes will be included in tender documents when bus operators bid for franchise routes and packages. This will include minimum pay rates, overtime rules and shift lengths, among other matters.

Unite regional officer Dave Roberts added, “This is a significant step forward. The introduction of bus franchising will benefit passengers, local communities and bus workers alike.

“Unite is working closely together with both Andy Burnham and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to ensure that our members’ terms and conditions are fully protected during the introduction of franchises.”

Unite is also supportive of moves to introduce bus franchising in other city regions, including Merseyside.

By Barckley Sumner

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