4,000 Yorkshire bus workers to vote on strike action

Bus services across Yorkshire could be thrown into chaos if 4,000 workers vote in favour of walkouts.

The union Unite plans to ballot 4,000 members working for the First Group across Yorkshire.
The union Unite plans to ballot 4,000 members working for the First Group across Yorkshire.

The union Unite has announced that it will be balloting members working for the First Group “imminently” as part of a dispute over pay, terms and conditions.

It includes drivers, engineers, cleaners and maintenance staff based at Bradford, Doncaster, Halifax, Huddersfield, Rotherham, Sheffield and York.

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Shop stewards from the union yesterday told the company that members would be balloted for industrial action, including strike action.

The union says wage claims are not being settled, bosses drag their feet about arranging meetings with reps and are doing away with trade union offices where reps can sort out workplace problems before they escalate.

Unite regional officer Steve Clark said: “A total of 4,000 bus workers in Yorkshire have said ‘Enough is enough’ when it comes to turning the screw on their pay and employment conditions.

“There is a feeling that the uncertainty caused by last month’s Brexit vote has encouraged the management to take advantage of the current situation to roll-back on pay and conditions.

“If that is the case, First Group will have a real battle on its hands. This is not just about our members and their living standards, but in preserving quality bus services for the travelling public in Yorkshire, often in rural areas.

“Make no mistake, if First Bus is allowed to erode our members’ conditions, the next thing will be reducing bus services, so they can squeeze the last ounce of profit from what should be a public service.”

First has yet to respond publicly to the decision to ballot.

The announcement comes less than a week after Unite members working for First in Leeds called off a planned strike as a gesture of “good faith”.

Around 1,000 drivers and other staff at the Bramley and Hunslet Park depots had been due to stage a walkout over pay on Monday.

Members had already held three days of strike action as part of the continuing dispute.

Fresh talks with the company had been hoped for this week.