'Odious sleight of hand'

Manchester bus drivers face losing £2,000-a-year in ‘bullying’ row

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A bullying culture and using Covid-19 as a smokescreen are the hallmarks of an attempt by Go North West to reduce the wages of 500 Manchester bus drivers by an estimated £2,000-a-year.

Unite said the offer by the Go North West bosses of a one-off £5,000 payment to alter employment terms and conditions was ‘an odious sleight of hand’ that would see its members out of pocket within three years.

Unite alleges that Go North West managing director, Nigel Featham has intimidated its reps by calling them in individually for ‘a dressing down’ to force through the changes. The union called on Mr Featham to negotiate constructively with the union and not conduct talks via the media.

Unite said that the working practices at the Queens Road depot, Manchester which the company wants to buy-out have since been replaced by additional cleaning and cash collection duties which mean the bus drivers are working just as hard.

Unite reps will be meeting later this week to decide the next steps which could include a ballot for industrial action.

Unite regional officer Steve Davies said: “What we have in Manchester is an odious sleight of hand where a bullying management style and the excuse of Covid-19 are being used to deprive our members of about £2,000-a-year – despite the fact that they are working just as hard and putting in the same hours.

“The company’s managing director Nigel Featham is using heavy-handed tactics by calling in our reps individually for ‘a dressing down’ to force through the one-off payment of £5,000 – and then uses the local media as his preferred way to negotiate,” he added.

“The company has focused its demands for financial cutbacks on the bus drivers alone – and the top bosses and backroom staff are exempt, which smacks of discrimination.

“We recognise that the whole country and the transport sector are going through difficult times because of the pandemic, but Unite is not going to stand by as our members are forced to take a severe hit to their pay packets. Attempts to intimidate the union will not work and will only strengthen our resolve to protect our members,” Davies went on to say.

“We call on Mr Featham to negotiate in a meaningful fashion or face the very real prospect of an industrial action ballot.”

By Shaun Noble

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