More than 800 drivers and engineers at Stagecoach North East have called ‘time’ on the management’s ‘divide-and-rule’ tactics on pay and will be holding a ballot for industrial action, including the option to strike, Unite the union said today (Wednesday 22 September).
The ballot for strike action and industrial action short of strike action opens on Wednesday 29 September and closes on Thursday 14 October. Stagecoach North East is the ‘trading’ name for Busways Travel Ltd and Cleveland Transit Ltd.
2% pay offer rejected
Management are going from depot to depot offering Unite’s reps variations of a verbal deal with a cap at two per cent for the pay year 2021 – 2022. All these offers have been rejected by the employees.
In the Newcastle area there are two depots at Slatyford and Walkergate with others at South Shields, Sunderland and on Teesside where there are sites at Stockton and Hartlepool.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said:
“Bosses at Stagecoach North East should know that Unite is ready for a relentless campaign if our members vote for strike action.
“Unite members all over the UK are voting for industrial action right now over Stagecoach’s ‘penny pinching’ on pay. Stagecoach’s board should be in no doubt that Unite is now wholly dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of our members.”
Unite regional coordinating officer Mark Sanderson said:
“We will not put up with management negotiating depot by depot in future. This has resulted in Unite members driving for Stagecoach in Newcastle being paid a higher hourly rate than those working at South Shields and Sunderland. Teesside drivers are paid less than all the other drivers in Stagecoach North East.
“However, this is the same company, the same managing director, the same regional pot of money, the same job.
“Other firms in the North East, such as Arriva and Go North East, have seen fit to offer more than Stagecoach’s miserly two per cent, which is made to look even more pathetic with the latest RPI inflation figure soaring to 4.8 per cent.
“We are seeking a substantial pay uplift across all the Stagecoach North East sites in recognition of our members’ hard work as key workers during the pandemic and the current rising cost of living.
“We apologise to the travelling public, who use these services, for any disruption this action will cause, but the reason for the disruption lies firmly with Stagecoach management. We are available for regional pay discussions should the management wish to resolve this dispute.”
Despite Stagecoach pleading poverty, the company remains extremely profitable, notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic, its latest accounts reveal that the group made a profit of £58.4 million and it has £875 million of available liquidity.
Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers’ living standards.