First Leeds bus drivers to strike over pay


First Leeds bus workers who are members of the union Unite will undertake strike action next week in a dispute over pay.

The continuous strike action in Leeds is due to begin at 2.00am on Tuesday 26 July 2016.

The planned industrial action follows previous strike activity on 13 and 20 June, and 8 July. Unite suspended strike action scheduled for 11 July in order to hold pay talks with First West Yorkshire.

The organisation’s latest pay offer included a £0.38 an hour increase for drivers and hosts, which equates to a 3.4% increase over a two-year period. This offer was rejected by Unite, leading to the strike action in June.

Unite claims that First Group bus drivers in Halifax earn nearly £2 an hour more than Leeds-based staff. This claim has been rejected by the organisation.

Paul Matthews, managing director at First Leeds, said: “I’m very disappointed and deeply frustrated that Unite plan[s] to cause such huge disruption for our customers in Leeds. This is not a last resort as Unite claim[s]. Not only do we have a planned meeting before Tuesday to try and resolve the dispute, but Unite [has] repeatedly refused to let all staff vote on our inflation offers.

“My team and I will continue to do all we can to bring this dispute to an end with a very fair and reasonable pay offer for our hard working drivers, but not one that will damage the future of the business and bring fare rises for our customers.”

Phil Bowen, regional officer at Unite, said: “The management needs to stop ducking and diving and commit to holding genuine and meaningful talks, otherwise this strike could go on for some time with an adverse impact for bus drivers in Leeds, something we have desperately sought to avoid.