First Leeds bus strike threat as union presses forward with ballot plans

First buses in Leeds city centre.
First buses in Leeds city centre.

Union leaders are pressing ahead with plans for a strike ballot at the biggest bus firm in Leeds.

Unite said on Monday that it was preparing to ballot its 3,500 members at First West Yorkshire, First York and First South Yorkshire over possible industrial action.

The announcement came ahead of internal appeals relating to the dismissal of two of its senior reps.

Unite also claimed that First Group had been conducting a campaign of “anti-trade union activities”.

Union announces plans for strike ballot at Leeds bus firm

The appeals against the dismissal of the reps have now been held but a decision on their fate is not due until next Thursday, February 7.

And today Unite – which is demanding the “immediate reinstatement” of the West Yorkshire-based pair – confirmed it was still working towards a ballot with the option for strikes.

The union’s regional co-ordinating officer, Steve Clark, said: “We are continuing with our legal preparations to hold ballots for industrial action by our 3,500 members working across these First Group companies.

“We say that they have been subjected to a systematic campaign of anti-trade union activities.

“The appeals for our two stewards were held this week, but the decision won’t be announced until next Thursday, as the management wants to conduct more inquiries.

“We are absolutely clear that they should be immediately reinstated.”

Responding to the union’s latest statement, David Ball, head of human resources for First Bus in Yorkshire, said: “We have not been notified of any intention to conduct ballots for industrial action in West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire or York.”

A walkout by staff at First in Leeds over pay in the summer of 2016 saw buses on more than 40 routes grind to a complete halt, although reduced services did run on some key routes.