Halifax bus drivers to vote on strike action

Halifax Bus Station.
Halifax Bus Station.
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Halifax bus workers will vote on whether to take industrial action over pay and conditions.

About 4,000 bus workers in Yorkshire have told their First Group bosses that they will be balloting for industrial action as the company mounts a review on their pay, and terms and conditions.

Shop stewards from Unite, the country’s largest union, told their managers that their members would be balloted ‘imminently’ for industrial action, including strike action.

The union suspects that the uncertainty engendered by the recent Brexit vote may have emboldened First Group, which last month announced a £52 million profit for its UK-wide bus division, to take a more aggressive stance against its workforce.

The workers – drivers, engineers, cleaners and maintenance staff – are based at Bradford, Doncaster, Halifax, Huddersfield, Rotherham, Sheffield and York.

Unite gave examples of First Group management’s tough line, saying that wage claims were not being settled, bosses dragging their feet about arranging meetings with reps and doing away with trade union offices where reps can be based to 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.

“Yesterday, the shop stewards told their respective line managers that Unite would ballot its members imminently for industrial action at the aggressive stance that the company has recently adopted towards its dedicated workforce.

“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.”