Concern for Sheffield bus network disruption amid talk of strike action 

First buses.
First buses.

Sheffield’s transport network may face disruption amid reports that bus engineers and cleaners in the city could be on the brink of strike action.

A staff member at First South Yorkshire’s Olive Grove bus depot said engineers and cleaners had rejected a 2.1 per cent pay rise put to them by the firm and are set to be balloted for industrial action.

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One member of staff, who did not want to be named, said: “I can’t see anyone voting against strike action and we want to make people aware of what the impact could be.

“It is going to have a massive impact on the Sheffield area. It wouldn’t be as easy to sort as a drivers’ strike because the company could just get them from elsewhere.

“It would affect engineers, cleaners, there would be no-one to refuel the buses, clean or maintain them and there would be no breakdown cover, which will mean the buses just won’t be able to run.”

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Unite regional coordinating officer Steve Clark confirmed negotiations were being carried out between the union and management over the pay given to engineers and cleaners at the depot.

But he said: “At present, engineers at First Buses in Sheffield are involved in pay negotiations which we hope will reach an amicable conclusion. No industrial action ballot is on the horizon at this present time.”

The worker described the situation at the depot as ‘absolute chaos’ with more agency staff than employed engineers.

He said: “The engineer side of the operation is covered by agency workers because of the simple reason that you can't get skilled engineers for the rate of pay First offer.

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“I think there could be strike action within the next few weeks and want to make everyone aware of how big an impact it could have. People have got to get to work, school and out and about and they rely on buses for that.”

Kevin Belfield, managing director of First South Yorkshire, said: “We are still in negotiations and to date we have received no notification of any industrial action.”