Bus strike CONFIRMED in South Yorkshire with Sheffield braced for two days of travel chaos

Bus drivers in South Yorkshire will stage a strike over pay after talks between Unite and First broke down.

By Dan Windham
Thursday, 18th July 2019, 12:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th July 2019, 4:29 pm
Buses in Sheffield
Buses in Sheffield

The drivers will hold two days of strike action as the long dispute over First’s pay offer rumbles on.

Unite said that its members, employed by First South Yorkshire Limited, will hold two 24 hour strikes on Saturday, July 27 and Saturday, August 3 starting at 2am.

Earlier this week, the drivers rejected a pay offer that was put forward by the profitable company by a three-to-one majority.

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Unite regional officer Phil Bown said: “We held talks with the management today to see if there was scope for a decent improvement in the offer, after our members overwhelmingly rejected it in a consultative ballot.

“Unfortunately, today the company came up with a pitiful new offer that could be measured in a few pence an hour following on from the one our members rejected this week.”

Unite says around 900 bus drivers could join the strikes meaning services could ‘grind to a halt’ on the affected days.

A walkout planned for July 1 was cancelled a few days before it was due to take place, after Unite said it was in ‘meaningful discussions' with First.

Mr Brown added: “This latest offer, verging on the insulting, went no way to meet our members’ aspirations as household bills continue to soar – as a result, the drivers will strike for 24 hours on successive Saturdays, 27 July and 3 August.

“However, Unite’s door is always open for a constructive dialogue to settle this dispute which will cause massive inconvenience for weekend bus travellers when the strikes occur.

“We can only reinforce the message that the parent company First Group is highly profitable and made £65 million in profits from its UK bus division for the year ending 31 March 2019. This is a company awash with cash, which can well afford to make a decent pay offer.”

The workers had voted by 69 per cent for strike action and by 79 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.

First South Yorkshire had proposed to freeze pay for all its staff, following what the company described as ‘another significant operating loss’.

But Unite argued that although First South Yorkshire was running at a loss, its parent company First Group could afford to fund a pay rise.

Garry Birmingham, managing director of First South Yorkshire, said: “We’re extremely disappointed that we have been unable to agree a way forward to avoid strike action on 27th July and 3rd August.

“Over the next few days we will be working hard to finalise our contingency plans and establish what level of service we will be able to provide for our customers.”