Stagecoach drivers at three depots in South Wales have announced industrial action.
Following the result of the recent industrial action ballot of Unite Wales members in Stagecoach South Wales, strike action has been called across the Cwmbran, Brynmawr and Blackwood depots.
Unite Wales Regional Officer, Alan McCarthy said: “Stagecoach have pushed our members into a corner. Not only has the company rejected our pay offer it is also attacking our members sick pay and paid breaks. Unite is regretful for the inconvenience this action will cause to passengers but our members have been left with no option but to strike.
“These pay talks were supposed to be resolved in April this year. Our members have now gone a several years with no increase in pay whilst the cost of living has risen considerably. They have had enough.
“The managing director of Stagecoach has described £10.50 an hour as ‘fantasy pay’. Our heroic bus drivers kept our communities moving throughout the pandemic. Bus drivers have proven their worth and to describe their modest pay claim in this way is both disrespectful and out of touch.
“What is a fantasy is to believe that £10.50 an hour is in some way being over paid, particularly when we consider the incredibly challenging working conditions our members face on a daily basis. Our members recognise the support they’ve received from the public through Covid, and hope that the public will support them now, when their employer will not.”
Regional Secretary of Unite Wales, Peter Hughes, added: “Unite will not stand by as drivers, who we hailed as heroes in the last 18 months, are made to pay the price of Covid through low pay and attacks on terms and conditions. Our members in Stagecoach, and now in Arriva North Wales are worth so much more than this.
“Deregulation of the bus industry has resulted in woeful treatment of workers and a lack of recognition of their efforts. Welsh Government can regulate this industry and hold operators who unethically attack workers accountable. It’s time for sectoral change now.”
Stagecoach South Wales urged the Unite union to use talks with ACAS planned for Friday 8 October to settle the ongoing pay dispute. The company said they have offered “deals of up to 10.5% covering drivers at Blackwood, Brynmawr and Cwmbran.”
Nigel Winter, Managing Director of Stagecoach in South Wales, said: “Our staff deserve a good pay rise and that is what we have offered. Buses are a lifeline for local people in our region and we would urge Unite to use the talks planned with ACAS on Friday as a way of negotiating a collective agreement on pay and settling this dispute, avoiding untold unnecessary disruption for our staff, their families and our local communities.
“Our teams have done an amazing job during the pandemic, and we very much appreciate everything they have done. But at the same time, we have a commitment to continue to protect jobs and ensure that future bus services in Wales remain sustainable for our customers to continue to use.
“The offer we have put forward, which includes sensible productivity improvements, could see pay increased by up to £43 a week, with back pay of up to £700. We know this would make a huge difference for many of our people and their families right now.
“Strike action is completely unnecessary and would simply damage the lives and livelihoods of hard-working people and businesses. We are hopeful that with the involvement of ACAS, a negotiated settlement may be reached and this will put an end to the uncertainty for our people, their families and our customers who rely on bus services.”
Stagecoach drives strike dates
• Starting at 02:00 hours on 19 October 2021 and continuing each day up to 24 October 2021 when the action will end at 01:59 hours
• Starting at 02:00 hours on 25 October 2021 and continuing up to 26 October 2021 when the action will end at 01:59 hours
• Starting at 02:00 hours on 29 October 2021 and continuing each day up to 31 October 2021 when the action will end at 01:59 hours
• Starting at 02:00 hours on 1 November 2021 and continuing each day up to 7 November 2021 when the action will end at 01:59 hours
• Starting at 02:00 hours on 8 November 2021 and continuing each day up to 10 November 2021 when the action will end at 01:59 hours
• Starting at 02:00 hours on 12 November 2021 and continuing up to 13 November 2021 when the action will end at 01:59 hours