More than 800 drivers, engineers, cleaners, supervisors and managers at Stagecoach North East have voted overwhelmingly to hold 12 days of strike action over the management’s ‘divide-and-rule’ tactics on pay, Unite the union said today (October 22).
Stagecoach North East is the ‘trading’ name for Busways Travel Ltd and Cleveland Transit Ltd. There was a 92 per cent vote in favour of strike action and 94 per cent for an overtime ban.
The 24 hour strikes are on November 8,10,12,16 18, 20, 22, 24, 26 and 30 and on December 2 and 4 . In the Newcastle area there are two depots at Slatyford and Walkergate with others at South Shields, Sunderland and on Teesside where there are sites at Stockton and Hartlepool.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Nine out of ten members on an extensive ballot voted for strike action on Stagecoach’s miserable offer. The Stagecoach board should understand that Unite is ready for a relentless campaign.
“Unite members all over the UK are voting for industrial action right now over the company’s ‘penny pinching’ on pay, serving notice that the union more than ever is ready to fight to defend jobs pay and conditions.”
Unite regional coordinating officer Mark Sanderson said, “Our members have overwhelmingly shown that they will not put up with management negotiating depot by depot in future. This has resulted in Unite members driving for Stagecoach in Newcastle being paid a higher hourly rate than those working at South Shields and Sunderland. Teesside drivers are paid less than all the other drivers in Stagecoach North East.
“However, this is the same company, the same managing director, the same regional pot of money, the same job,” he added.
“Other firms in the North East, such as Arriva and Go North East, have seen fit to offer more than Stagecoach’s miserly two per cent, which is made to look even more pathetic with the latest RPI inflation figure soaring to 4.9 per cent this month,” Sanderson continued.
“We apologise in advance to the travelling public, who use these services, for any disruption this action will cause, but the reason for the disruption lies firmly with Stagecoach management. We are available for regional pay discussions with the management to resolve this dispute – the ball is very much in their court.”
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.
Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers’ living standards.
By Shaun Noble