First Bus strikes Yorkshire: Bus strikes in June to affect Leeds services as talks are ongoing between Unite and First Bus

First Bus and Unite are in talks over a pay dispute that will see more than 50 First Bus services on strikes in Leeds.

First Bus drivers of the West Yorkshire branch have announced that they will take regular industrial action over the company’s denial of returning the date of new pay rises from October back to April.

The drivers who are members of Unite, a campaigning union that fights for employees in the workplace, agreed during the pandemic to change their anniversary pay date to October to help the company financially.

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According to Unite, this move means that workers have been left struggling during the cost of living crisis and will not receive a pay increase until October at the earliest.

A First Bus at a bus stop. (Pic credit: Marisa Cashill)A First Bus at a bus stop. (Pic credit: Marisa Cashill)
A First Bus at a bus stop. (Pic credit: Marisa Cashill)

The strikes, which are expected to start on June 18, 2023, will take place every day indefinitely and will see disruption for bus passengers around the city of Leeds.

Managing director of First North and West Yorkshire, Andrew Cullen, said: “We are disappointed in the decision of Unite to announce strike action. The current agreement on pay, which was signed by Unite and its officials, is in place and agreed until October 2023.

“The management team at First North and West Yorkshire have been working hard to find solutions to help our valued drivers during these tough economic times and have made a series of substantial and unconditional offers to satisfy demands.

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“These remain on the table and have yet to be put to our Leeds drivers by the Unite representatives, therefore the union’s efforts should focus on this and not on industrial action while collective bargaining continues.

“The First North and West Yorkshire team is ready and willing to meet and we encourage Unite to join us so we can finalise a settlement and help our drivers to manage the continuing pressure on the cost of living that everyone is facing as quickly as possible.”

General secretary at Unite, Sharon Graham, said: “When First West Yorkshire needed its drivers to dig deep for the company, they did. Not only did they put their and their families’ health on the line by continuing to drive First buses, they also agreed to delay getting a pay rise.

“First Group have taken advantage of this sacrifice to keep their drivers’ wages down as inflation has rocketed. Our members are absolutely right to strike at what is essentially a stab in the back by First West Yorkshire and they will receive Unite’s total support.”

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