25 Jul 2011

Bognor and Chichester strike called off

A strike planned by Stagecoach drivers this week in Chichester and Bognor Regis has been called off. A ballot fell in favour of accepting a pay offer for drivers and back office staff at the weekend.
Drivers in the area were set to strike tomorrow, Thursday 28 July, and Saturday 30 July, but it was called off after the Unite union reached an agreement. An employee who did not want to be named said there was to be a protest march through the streets of Chichester on Thursday.

20 Jul 2011

Souter's bulging wallet

Stagecoach co-founder and chief executive Sir Brian Souter has seen a double-digit increase in his pay package following a strong year for the Perth-based transport group.
Although his salary only edged up by £11,000 to £564,000, Souter saw the cash and shares bonus payment he received rise by £66,000 to £258,000, according to the company's latest annual report. Together with benefits his total pay package rose to £844,000, an increase of almost 11 per cent on the £762,000 he received the previous year.
But with Souter owning around 15 per cent of the company, his salary package is a relatively small part of his income. Following a 9 per cent hike in the full-year dividend payment, Souter will receive more than £7.7 million in dividend payments.
Stagecoach's performance last year was boosted by increased use of public transport with commuters leaving cars at home because of high fuel prices. Pre-tax profits rose by 27.5 per cent to £205.7m in the year to 30 April with group turnover rising by 10 per cent rise to £2.4 billion, boosted by growth at home and abroad.
The regional UK bus division - which operates services in Aberdeen, Fife and the Highlands as well as several cities south of the Border - saw sales growth of 2.1 per cent to £893.6m. Operating profits rose 21 per cent to £153.1m.

FirstGroup revolt over CEO payout

Tim O'Toole, the chief executive of FirstGroup, suffered a rare public rebuke last Friday after 42% of shareholders voted against his remuneration package.
A bloc of shareholders took exception to a "retention" share award of nearly 215,000 shares. The award, worth around £760,000 at Friday's share price, will be triggered if O'Toole is still at the helm or is not working his notice on 1 November 2013. O'Toole earned a total of £591,000 last year, excluding a housing allowance of £138,000.
FirstGroup shares rose 8.18% to 356p on Friday as the transport operator said sales in its rail business rose 8.5% in the three months to 30 June and its bus division saw a 0.7% rise in like-for-like sales.

19 Jul 2011

Unite leader paid £500,000 'golden goodbye'

Britain's largest trade union, Unite, is facing a "golden goodbye" pay row after its former leader Derek Simpson was paid more than £500,000 last year, including a £361,000 severance payment. Simpson received £510,659, the bulk comprising of £361,347 in severance pay. He also received £97,677 in gross salary, and more than £51,000 in housing benefit and car allowances.
Simpson's colleague and joint general secretary, Tony Woodley, did not receive a payoff and was paid a total of £136,289. He is still employed by Unite on £20,000 a year.
Simpson and Woodley's successor, Len McCluskey, said he was shocked by the payment. But he stressed that Simpson's payoff was drawn up under the financial system used by the Amicus union, which merged with the T&G in 2007 to form Unite. McCluskey said there would be no similar payments under his regime, but the union was powerless to intervene in Simpson's case. "It is inappropriate but there is little that I can do about it. There will be no such agreements in Unite going forward."
According to Unite's annual return for 2010, the union generated an income of £141.6m last year but spent £171.9m, pushing the union into a deficit of £30.2m.

18 Jul 2011

Plymouth First drivers vote for action

Over 100 Plymouth First bus drivers have voted for industrial action over management scrapping the staff bus. Workers in the RMT union voted for action that may include a strike and an overtime ban.
The staff bus drops workers at its Chelson Meadow depot at 6.02am, Monday to Saturday. Bosses claim the bus is under-used and uneconomical, but the workers’ RMT union say it is the “axing of essential staff transport”. The service was set up before the firm was privatised.

7 Jul 2011

Arriva flies British strikebreakers to Malta

Arriva took over the Maltese bus network on Sunday, but were immediately plunged into chaos by an unofficial strike of at least 60 drivers. The drivers expressed their fury that despite signing an agreement to work a straight eight-hour shift, they were presented with a roster that includes split shifts running from 11am to 11.30pm with a four-hour break in between.
Many drivers refused to work the proposed shifts in spite of an agreement reached between the General Workers’ Union (GWU), which represents 480 bus drivers, and Arriva. Without the backing of their union, bus drivers congregated at 5am on Sunday, to try and stop the new fleet from taking off.
Twanny Cassar, who was chosen by those present to speak on their behalf, insisted the GWU had failed to inform them of the agreement reached with Arriva and it had forged ahead without consulting them, something the union denies. Mr Cassar said the only way drivers would agree to work a split shift was if they were paid €350 a week and not the paltry €245 a week they were being offered. “We were told that if we don’t like it we can return our uniform and leave. But we will fight this and if not we will go and register (for work, at the unemployment office). We cannot stand by and be ridiculed,” he said to loud cheers from fellow drivers.
Transport Minister Austin Gatt was in bullish mood, telling the workers “The days when you dictated what happened in public transport are over... a new service [is starting] with new conditions. Those who don’t like these conditions can choose not to not turn up for work and I hope they will be fired,” he said.
Arriva Malta responded to the strike by flying in 55 British drivers to fill the gaps in its service. But they don't speak the language, and don't know the routes.
This report has been compiled from several sources, principally the Times of Malta: