Greater Manchester is braced for severe travel disruption later this month as over 1,000 bus drivers employed by Stagecoach begin strike action over pay.
The workers recorded an overwhelming yes vote in favour of strike action in response to the company failing to make a realistic pay offer.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Low pay is the scourge of the bus industry. Stagecoach made profits touching £60m last year and has £875m in the bank. Yet it claims it cannot make a decent inflation-busting offer to its staff.
“Unite will be relentless in its campaign to ensure that our members at Stagecoach receive a fair pay increase. Stagecoach’s management leaves us with no alternative.”
In the next month there will be a total of eight days of strike action. The first strike will begin on Tuesday 26 October with a further strike on Friday 29 October.
The remaining dates already announced are 1, 5, 6, 8, 10 and 12 of November. The planned strike on Saturday 6 November coincides with the Manchester derby.
Stagecoach is the largest bus operator in Greater Manchester (where it trades as the Greater Manchester Bus Company South).
The bus drivers are based at the company’s depots in Hyde Road, Sharston, Stockport and Ashton. The disruption to services will effect passengers throughout Greater Manchester and beyond as the company operates routes to Wigan, Oldham and Rochdale.
Unite regional officer Dave Roberts said: “The planned strike action will undoubtedly cause huge disruption for bus passengers across Greater Manchester but this dispute is directly of Stagecoach’s making.
“Unite’s members simply will not accept low pay any longer. The solution to the dispute is in Stagecoach’s hands. If it wishes to avoid strike action then it needs to make a pay offer in line with our members’ expectations.”
Lee Wasnidge, Managing Director for Stagecoach Manchester, said: “Stagecoach has reached agreements with Unite in many other parts of the country, including in neighbouring Wigan, and there is no reason why an agreement cannot be reached here in Manchester.
“We are committed to working constructively with Unite to deliver pay proposals that are fair to our people, and which also ensure the long-term sustainability of the bus network for local communities at a time when passenger numbers are significantly below the level needed to cover the costs of running services.
“We already have further talks planned with Unite and we remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached with local union representatives.”