Bus strikes loom across Lancashire as Stagecoach drivers in Preston and Chorley ballot for action

Bus services across Lancashire could grind to a halt next month with drivers currently voting on strike action.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 4:21 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th March 2019, 8:58 am
A Stagecoach bus
A Stagecoach bus

Some 270 Stagecoach bus drivers in Preston and Chorley are being balloted for action against Stagecoach, with the workforce currently locked in a pay dispute with the Scotland-based national bus operator.

The drivers, who belong to the Unite union, have put in for “a substantial increase” in their hourly rates of pay.

Driver Dave Nicholson, the Unite branch secretary based at Chorley, said: “What we’ve said is they can’t meet our aspirations. This has happened after a number of consultation meetings.

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“The authorised date for our wage review should have been December 1, 2018, obviously we’ve gone past that date.

“Membership feels very strongly if they can’t meet our aspirations, they want to take industrial action. We’ve relayed that to the Unite union and they’ve authorised us to go ahead with a postal ballot."

He said that was what drivers were “echoing”.

Mr Nicholson said 200 drivers based at Preston and 70 based at Chorley were involved in the dispute.

“It will give us an indication that’s what would happen unless the company conduct another meeting and give us an improved offer,” said Mr Nicholson.

Stagecoach routes across Lancashire including in Chorley, Preston, Leyland and Blackpool would be affected, Unite regional officer John Boughton said.

He added: “I can’t see this ballot not producing a positive result for our members.

“I want to try and get around the table and resolve this situation before disruption because nobody wants labour to be withdrawn.”

A Stagecoach spokesman said: “We made a good offer to employees in December to increase pay by 4.8 per cent in less than a year, and it is frustrating that the union has decided to reject this substantial increase and has instead insisted on an unrealistic and unaffordable desire to achieve 7.2 per cent within one year.

“We are extremely disappointed that the union has now chosen to ballot employees on the possibility of strike action.

“We await the outcome of the ballot and remain open to further discussions with the union.”

Ballot papers were sent out to union members last Friday.

The result of the ballot is not expected to be announced for around three weeks, with the ballot officially closing on Friday, April 12.