Drivers employed by the Ribble Motor Services Ltd, part of the Stagecoach group, have voted to take industrial action over low pay, after members rejected the latest offer by management following extensive negotiations with Unite.
The 250 bus drivers based at the Preston and Chorley depots will take three days of strike action beginning on Thursday, October 14 until the end of Saturday, October 16. There will then be a further 48 hour strike beginning on Friday, October 22.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Low pay is the scourge of the bus industry right across this country. It is totally unacceptable that yet again workers are expected to carry the load. That's why Unite will be relentless in its campaign to ensure that our members at Stagecoach receive a fair pay increase.”
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The union said low pay rates are causing increasing driver shortages at both depots.
The strikes will disrupt bus services in the Preston area and services to Blackpool, Blackburn, Skipton, Southport and Bolton.
The union said that despite Stagecoach pleading poverty, the company remained extremely profitable with its latest accounts revealing that the group made a profit of £58.4m. The company also has £875m of available liquidity.
Unite regional officer Alison Spencer-Scragg said: “Our members have made it clear that they will no longer accept low pay.
“The planned strike action will undoubtedly cause widespread disruption to passengers across south Lancashire but the drivers believe they have no option but to take strike action to secure a decent wage.
“If the local management at Stagecoach wants to avoid these strikes then they should stop posturing, make a realistic pay offer and work with us to repair industrial relations.”
Matt Davies, Managing Director of Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire said: "Local people who depend on buses will be extremely angry at this completely unnecessary disruption to their bus services.
"Bus services across the country are facing a continuing challenging financial environment with passenger levels significantly down on pre-Covid levels. Bus passenger fares are significantly short of what is needed just to cover even the day-to-day costs of running services without government support.
We have also done all we reasonably can to hold constructive discussions with Unite and reach a sensible and sustainable pay agreement across our bus depots in Lancashire. The fact that we have proposed and reached agreement at all of our other depots is a sign of our good faith.
"However, Unite has shown no interest in reaching similar agreements covering bus drivers at our Preston and Chorley depots and instead insists on fuelling fantasy pay demands.
"We have offered our drivers a pay increase that is in line with inflation, and that comes on top of a 2.25 per cent increase last year."
The company said action by Unite union members would impact on operations from the Preston and Chorley sites, which operate services around Preston and to Blackpool, Blackburn, Skipton, Southport and Bolton. It would not impact Stagecoach services from Morecambe and around Lancaster and Kendal including services from Lancaster to Preston and Blackpool.
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