Lancashire bus users set to face disruption as drivers consider strike over pay
Bus users could face disruption across Lancashire this autumn as drivers ballot on industrial action over pay.
The workers at Stagecoach in Lancashire and Merseyside are voting on whether to strike over a pay offer they say does not reflect their aspirations and is no reward for their efforts as key workers throughout the pandemic, when they worked despite the risk to themselves and their families from coronavirus.
In addition to the pay increase, the workers, employed by Ribble Motor Services Ltd, part of the Stagecoach group, are also seeking an improvement in sick pay as the pandemic has demonstrated when workers are ill they must be able to afford to isolate in order to keep colleagues safe.
The ballot, which closes on September 20, covers hundreds of workers who are members of Unite based at the company’s depots in Preston, Chorley and Gilmoss.
At Preston and Chorley Unite is just balloting bus drivers, while at Gilmoss cleaners and engineers are also part of the industrial action ballot.
Unite regional officer Alison Spencer-Scragg said: "Our members realise that strike action will cause huge disruption to passengers across Lancashire and Liverpool. Stopping services is the last thing they want to do.
“However, workers feel that they are left with no option as the management have refused to put forward an adequate pay increase.
“Bus workers were hailed as heroes during the previous lockdowns, however Stagecoach also need to reward this dedication with a decent pay award.
“Stagecoach has the ability to prevent strikes from occurring and the resulting disruption to passengers by returning to the negotiating table and making a decent offer.”
A spokesman for Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire said: “We are disappointed with the union's stance, particularly when we have worked hard to protect the jobs of our people over the past 18 months.
"Bus networks are also requiring taxpayer support as a result of the pandemic, and the focus should be on protecting the long-term sustainability of services for the local community.
‘We are committed to offering good packages for our people that reflect the local economic conditions, the varying costs of running services and the level of passenger journeys.
“There is no reason why the union should be considering taking action which would disrupt the buses local people rely on to get to work, access public services and see family and friends.
"We have held extensive discussions with Unite and put forward proposals that are both fair and realistic. We very much remain open to continuing discussions with the union."
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