Bus drivers in South Yorkshire are set to walk out after voting ‘overwhelmingly’ for strike action.
Employees at First South Yorkshire were balloted by the union Unite, which rejected a planned pay freeze, and the results came back this afternoon.
Unite has yet to confirm exactly what form the industrial action will take or when it will happen.
The union’s regional officer Phil Bown said: “Unite workers at First Group have voted overwhelmingly for strike action as they will simply not accept a one year pay freeze, especially as First Group is a highly profitable company.
“Unite will now be holding a series of meetings with our stewards and members to agree the exact form of industrial action and when it will take place.
“If First Group wants to prevent the industrial action, which will unfortunately inevitably lead to severe disruption for members of the public, then it needs to make a reasonable pay offer and enter into negotiations.”
Unite previously said that if members voted in favour, a strike could begin in mid-June.
A spokeswoman for First South Yorkshire said only just over 40 per cent of its drivers, not all of whom are members of Unite, had voted for industrial action.
She also pointed out that only employees of First South Yorkshire, and not First Group as a whole, had voted in the ballot.
Garry Birmingham, Managing Director of First South Yorkshire, said: “We’re extremely disappointed that First South Yorkshire drivers have voted for strike action.
“We’ve engaged with the union on several occasions and have made our financial position clear. Any strike action would cause significant disruption for our customers and only place the business in an even more difficult financial position.
“We will aim to ensure that any planned strike that may occur has minimal impact to our bus services and we will communicate the dates once notified by Unite, so that our customers can plan ahead.”
Mr Birmingham had written to staff before the ballot began, urging them to vote against industrial action.
He said the pay freeze, which would affect all staff, including managers, was being proposed after the company had made ‘another significant operating loss’.
And he warned that industrial action would not only incovenience customers but would pose a risk ‘to the future of everyone at First South Yorkshire’.