A third week of strikes by Weymouth bus drivers are set for next week, as the bosses remain ‘stuck in a groove’ and are not moving in the ‘poor relations’ pay dispute.
Unite today (June 28) announced four more days of strike action next week for the drivers, based at Weymouth and Bridport.
More than 110 drivers, who work for First Hampshire & Dorset Ltd, are already striking for four days this week in the seven month dispute over ‘poverty pay’, which sees them being paid less than other First Bus drivers in the West Country and by rival firms in Bournemouth and Poole.
“We have reached the ‘stuck record’ stage,” said Unite regional officer Bob Lanning. “I get emails from the management saying we should talk, but there is never any hint of an improved offer to eradicate the pay disparities across the First Bus ‘family’ in the West Country.
“We understand that local shops and businesses are being hit by the strikes – our members don’t take this action lightly, but there are fed up with being the ’poor pay relations’ and with the point blank refusal of management to rectify these pay anomalies, despite seven months of talks,” he added.
“Unite does not want the Weymouth and Bridport economies to suffer as the holiday season gets into full swing. Local shops should put pressure on the bus company to get around the table for constructive talks. We are ready for talks at any time, any place.”
The strikes will run from at 04:30am on Monday July 4, ending 04:29am on Tuesday 5 July; from 04:30am on Wednesday, July 6, ending at 04:29am on Thursday, July 7; from 04:30am on Friday, July 8, ending at 04:29am on Saturday, July 9; and from 04:30am on Sunday, July 10, concluding at 04:29am on Monday, July 11.
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 and Bridport 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.
Recently, the company announced a UK-wide profit for its bus division of £52 million. Nearly 90 per cent of the drivers voted in favour of strike action.