14 Jan 2014

Dorset: First drivers to strike over pay next week

Bus services around Weymouth, Portland and west Dorset could be crippled next week due to a drivers’ strike. Members of Unite who work for First, are planning a 24-hour walkout on Monday 20 January due to a row over pay. It will affect the Weymouth and Bridport depots.
But one driver said that although school and colleges services would be provided, other passenger routes would be severely hit. “It’s going to be absolute murder,” he said. “We don’t want to do it but we have been forced into action... Our pay is well below those who work at the Yeovil depot which we think is unfair.”
The driver claimed the company had offered a small amount of extra money but claimed that holidays would be affected by the deal. He said the action would begin early on Monday and continue for 24 hours. Picket lines will be in place at the depots.

From the Unite press release:
About 60 drivers at First Hampshire and Dorset will strike on Monday in a dispute which has seen their pay fall dramatically behind their regional counterparts. 

The dispute centres on the pay of the drivers, currently on £8.30 an hour, compared with their regional colleagues, such as drivers on Yellow Buses in Bournemouth who earn more £10 an hour. 

The management has offered 1.5 per cent for April 2013-April 2014 which would take the pay to £8.50 an hour – however, the company wants to claw back that rise by eroding terms and conditions, such as reduced sick pay, so the deal is self-financing. 

Moving the goalposts
Unite, the country’s largest union which represents the drivers, said that the deal now on the table offered no back pay and management also wanted to start the pay year on 1 July which was ‘moving the goalposts’ by three months. 

Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said: “Our members are some of the lowest paid bus drivers in the country – 30 miles away in Bournemouth Yellow Buses’ drivers are receiving more than £10 an hour. They would like £9.00 an hour, without any strings attached... This is the first time that our members have gone on strike for 12 years at this company. They are being pushed against the wall financially by the cost of living crisis, which has seen household bills soar."


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