A series of strikes is planned by members of Unite who work at First in Worcester and Hereford. The walkouts are due to take place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, November 5 and 6, November 13 and 14 and November 21 and 22, followed by a 72-hour strike on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, November 28, 29 and 30. There will be pickets outside the bus stations and garages in Worcester and Hereford.
The decision to strike followed a ballot of Unite members. The union has about 180 members in Worcester and Hereford, of which 160 are drivers and about half of these voted in the ballot. Of those who voted, 90 per cent backed strike action.
Tom Keogh, regional officer of the union, said there had been a gradual erosion of union members’ terms and conditions over the last five months but that the strikes would be called off if they got a “clear commitment” from First.
He said drivers were losing about two-and-a-half hours a week in pay (about £25 per week per driver) because they were not being paid for extra work, including carrying out health and safety checks (tyres, lights, brakes, etc), cashing up and walking to their buses. He also said some drivers were losing up to £50 a week in terms of holiday pay.
“Morale among drivers is very low. Nobody likes going on strike. It is the very last weapon in our armoury,” Mr Keogh said. “The company is taking no notice of the drivers."