Stagecoach drinking in ‘last chance saloon’

Gloucestershire bus drivers overwhelmingly vote for strike action in pay dispute

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Unite has warned the management at Stagecoach West, that it is ‘drinking in the last chance saloon’ if it wants to avoid strikes in a dispute over low pay.

Over 300 bus drivers, who are members of Unite, have overwhelmingly voted for strike action.

Unite has decided not to announce strike action immediately in order to give Stagecoach West a final opportunity to make a pay offer which meets workers’ expectations. Many of the drivers are paid less than £11 an hour, for what is a highly responsible and demanding role.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Stagecoach needs to end its penny-pinching and pay bus workers a decent wage. Unite has been relentless in its campaign to ensure our members at Stagecoach across the country receive a fair pay increase.

“Unite does what it says on the trade union tin and always puts the jobs, pay and conditions of its members first,” she added. “Our members at Stagecoach West will be receiving Unite’s unequivocal support until this dispute is resolved.”

If strike action goes ahead it will affect all of Stagecoach West’s operations from its depots in Bristol, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Stroud, Colway and Ross-on-Wye.

Despite its pleas of poverty Stagecoach’s parent company remains extremely profitable. Notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic, its accounts reveal that the group made a profit of £58.4 million and it has £875 million of available liquidity.

Unite regional officer Shevaun Hunt added, “Stagecoach is drinking in the last chance saloon. Unite is delaying strike dates in order to give the company a final opportunity to make a decent offer that members can accept.

“There is still a real possibility that strikes, which will cause widespread disruption to bus passengers throughout Gloucestershire, can be avoided but the ball is firmly in Stagecoach’s court.”

Unite is also balloting its members at its depot in Swindon. The ballot closes on Tuesday, February 21.

There is a growing shortage of bus drivers throughout the UK. A recent survey of Unite members revealed that 99 per cent of garages had shortages and that low pay was identified as the primary reason for workers leaving the profession.

By Barckley Sumner

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