UPDATED: Strike action has been cancelled to allow union members the chance to vote on a revised pay offer.
OROGINAL POST: A thousand bus workers in Leeds will strike continuously from next Tuesday (26 July), with the union chiefs warning action could continue ‘for some time’.
Unite Union says the action will start at 2am and continue indefinitely.
The bus workers, based at the Bramley and Hunslet Park depots, already held two 24-hour strikes last month. The union says First Bus drivers in Halifax earn nearly £2 an hour more than their Leeds counterparts.
They claim bosses at First West Yorkshire had reneged on promised talks after the union suspended a strike on 11 July as a goodwill gesture.
Unite regional officer Phil Bown said:
“We suspended the strike we were going to hold on 11 July as a goodwill gesture, as the management had indicated it wished to talk.
“However, we waited and waited and nothing happened. It was only after we announced that we would be holding an all-out strike from next Tuesday that the company suggested talks on Monday.
“However, on the bosses’ past record, this could be another delaying tactic.
“The management needs to stop ducking and diving and commit to holding genuine and meaningful talks, otherwise this strike could go on for some time with an adverse impact for bus users in Leeds – something we have desperately sought to avoid.”
First Bus: ‘Disappointed’
In a statement, First Leeds managing director Paul Matthews said the dispute was ‘unjustified’ – saying the company had offered 38p an hour, an equivalent of 3.4% over a two-year period:
“I’m very disappointed and deeply frustrated that Unite plan to cause such huge disruption for our customers in Leeds.
“This is not a last resort as Unite claim. Not only do we have a planned meeting before Tuesday to try and resolve the dispute, but Unite have repeatedly refused to let all staff vote on our above inflation offers.
“Unite seem intent on strikes supported by their war chest to pay drivers to strike.
“My team and I will continue to do all we can to bring this dispute to an end with a very fair and reasonable pay offer for our hard working drivers but not one that will damage the future of the business and bring fare rises for our customers.
“I am sorry that Unite have chosen to put our customers through this, given we are committed to working with them to resolve this unnecessary dispute.”
First’s full comment can be read here.