Manchester Stagecoach bus drivers to vote for strike action

Bus passengers in Greater Manchester could face severe disruption if drivers employed by Stagecoach vote for strike action

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Bus passengers in Greater Manchester could be facing severe disruption to their journeys if drivers employed by Stagecoach, vote for strike action in a dispute over pay.

Stagecoach, which operates as Greater Manchester Bus Company South, is refusing to make a pay offer which in anyway meets the aspirations of the drivers and is blaming the Covid pandemic for its actions.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Bosses at Stagecoach should know that Unite is ready for a relentless campaign if our Manchester members vote for strike action.

“Unite members all over the UK are voting for industrial action right now over Stagecoach’s ‘penny pinching’ on pay. Stagecoach’s board should be in no doubt that Unite is now wholly dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members,” she added.

The company’s refusal to make a realistic offer, despite extensive negotiations has infuriated the workforce who continued to work throughout the pandemic in order to ensure that key workers in Manchester could get to work – at times risking their health and that of their families.

The ballot covers over a thousand bus drivers, who are members of Unite the UK’s leading union, based at the company’s depots in Hyde Road, Shaston, Stockport and Ashton. The company operates routes which go as far as Wigan, Oldham and Rochdale. Stagecoach is the largest bus operator in Greater Manchester.

The ballot for strike action opens on Tuesday 28 September and closes on Tuesday 12 October. If members vote for industrial action then strikes could begin later this autumn.

Despite Stagecoach pleading poverty the company remains extremely profitable, notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic its latest accounts reveal that the group made a profit of £58.4 million and it has £875 million of available liquidity. Bus drivers in Manchester are currently paid just £12.54 an hour.

In addition to a substantial pay increase the workers are also seeking an improvement in sick pay as the pandemic has demonstrated when workers are ill they must be able to afford to isolate in order to keep colleagues safe.

Unite regional officer Dave Roberts said, “Strike action will cause huge disruption to passengers across Greater Manchester.

“Bus workers were rightly hailed as heroes during successive lockdowns. However, warm words do not pay the bills and Stagecoach needs to reward its workers’ dedication with a decent pay award,” he added.

“Stagecoach still has the time to resolve this dispute by returning to the negotiating table and making a decent offer.”

Stagecoach’s attitude on pay in Manchester is mirrored across the UK and unless the company quickly changes its approach, further industrial action ballots are expected in the coming weeks.

By Barckley Sumner

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