'Through solidarity we win'

Unite Stagecoach London supervisors celebrate 10 per cent pay win

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It’s no secret that Unite has made huge gains in the bus sector over the last year, winning big inflation-busting pay rises for tens of thousands of drivers and other bus workers across the UK.

This month, Unite notched up another notable win when the union secured a 10 per cent pay increase for members employed as supervisors at Stagecoach London.

UniteLive caught up with Unite Stagecoach London rep for supervisors Mansha Khan, who said members were thrilled by the result.

“Every single one of our members are very happy about the pay deal,” he explained. “I’ve never known all of our members to be this happy about what we achieved.”

The dispute began after Stagecoach London refused to offer supervisors more than a seven percent pay rise – which was a full three per cent less than what was offered bus drivers last year.

“It was brilliant that bus drivers secured a 10 per cent pay rise, so when our pay anniversary approached three or four months later, we thought it was only fair that supervisors received the same,” he noted.

Supervisors, Mansha said, were absolutely “furious” that the company wouldn’t budge from its much lower pay offer.

“That’s when I got together with [Unite regional officer] John Murphy and we decided that we weren’t going to accept anything less than 10 per cent.”

Ultimately, an astounding 99.8 per cent of the membership rejected the pay offer.

Mansha said that the biggest challenge faced in the dispute was giving supervisors the confidence to prepare for industrial action.

“I’ve been a rep for more than a decade, and I know it can be a very difficult task to convince supervisors especially to take action,” he said.

But what made the difference, Mansha reports, is the new policies of Unite general secretary Graham and support given to reps under her leadership.

“I’ve never felt so supported as a rep, and members have seen with their own eyes the huge number of successes we’ve had across the sector and the country with industrial action. That support I’ve received as a rep gave me that extra hit of confidence to rise to the challenge.”

Stagecoach London continued to dig their heels in over the pay deal, saying that they couldn’t afford to give supervisors any more. And that’s when Mansha told members that a ballot for industrial action may be the only option.

“I was very proud when members told me they would follow our lead – that they would stand ready to fight,” he said. “This was the culmination of lots of work I did with John Murphy, who was incredibly supportive.”

When Stagecoach London got wind that supervisors were prepared to go all the way and ballot for strike action, the company relented and offered them the 10 per cent pay rise. What’s more, the pay win was also extended to supervisors who only recently became employed by Stagecoach London after the company took over two other firms.

“Management was trying to keep supervisors who worked for the other two firms out of our bargaining unit. But from our perspective, it was only fair for them to be included,” he explained. “So as part of our negotiations, we also secured the 10 per cent pay rise for them, which they will receive on their pay anniversary date. Ultimately, this is a pay win for members in three companies.”

Like everyone, Mansha said, Stagecoach London supervisors have struggled with the cost of living crisis — and so this key pay win couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Our achievement has made a substantial difference in people’s lives – and it shows the value of being in Unite,” Mansha added. “With the support we now have from Unite, it’s through solidarity and unity that we win these achievements. That is what Unite has provided us all.”

By Hajera Blagg