Holidays hit as bus drivers set for third week of strikes
Unite yesterday 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.
Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said: “We have reached the ‘stuck record’ stage. 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.
“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 04:30 on Monday 4 July, ending 04:29 on Tuesday 5 July; from 04:30 on Wednesday 6 July, ending at 04:29 on Thursday 7 July; from 04:30 on Friday 8 July, ending at 04:29 on Saturday 9 July; and from 04:30 on Sunday 10 July, concluding at 04:29 on Monday 11 July.
Unite argues that First Group is a very profitable UK company that can afford to reward its Bristol drivers with a 13% increase, but for its employees in Weymouth and Bridport the deal on the table is only 2.3% 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.