'All-out' strike threat on Liverpool buses as drivers step up pay row

Stagecoach workers are set to strike in Liverpool next week over a pay dispute
-Credit: (Image: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)

Bus drivers in Liverpool are set to ramp up their strike action in a move that could result in all-out continuous walk-outs this summer.

Nearly 500 Liverpool Stagecoach bus drivers are involved in a major dispute with their employer over pay. The drivers say there is a large disparity between what they receive and the pay of Arriva bus drivers in the city.

Unite the union says that Stagecoach drivers are paid £1.40 less an hour than their Arriva colleagues, which equates to around £3,000 less over the course of a year.

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The row was due to lead to strike action and service cancellations earlier this month, but this was called off after a new pay offer from Stagecoach was recommended by Unite to its members. But the drivers voted against the offer, meaning that they are now set to walk-out on strike on Monday, June 24 and Tuesday, June 25.

Stagecoach will be operating a limited service from its Gillmoss depot on these dates. Services 10A, 14, 53, 82, 86 in Liverpool will not operate and a special timetable will operate on routes 17, 19, 20 and 21 between 6.30am – 19.30 on the strike days.

But with these strikes set to go ahead next week, Unite is now planning to ramp up its industrial action across the summer. The union has announced further days of industrial action between July 5 and 8 and 12 and 15. The union said this will be escalated to an all-out continuous strike if Stagecoach is not prepared to make an "acceptable" pay offer to its members.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “For too long Stagecoach has got away with paying its Liverpool drivers on the cheap. This shows a total lack of respect and appreciation for its workers, without whom there would be no bus service, and for the communities on Merseyside who rely on their buses.

“Unite’s Liverpool Stagecoach members have their union’s total backing in striking for a fair pay rise.”

Unite regional officer Brian Troake said: “Our members have been forced into strike action by Stagecoach’s continued attempts to keep them on unfair rates of pay. Stagecoach owes the traveling public an abject apology for the disruption it will cause.“

"Further industrial action could be avoided, but that requires Stagecoach to return to the negotiating table with an offer our members can accept.”

Stagecoach recently said it was "disappointed" that its improved pay offer had been rejected in a ballot despite carrying the full recommendation of the Unite union.

Matt Davies, Managing Director of Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire said: “We have done our utmost to propose a pay deal that meet the expectations of our people whilst also being affordable for the long-term sustainability of our bus network and worked with Unite to achieve and offer that they recommended. I am sorry for the disruption that this strike will cause for our customers."

Matt Davies, managing director of Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire said: "We offer a competitive pay and benefits package. Claims that our drivers are on £1.40 an hour less than Arriva doesn't tell the full story, as it compares our pay rate before the 6.4% rise we have offered with Arriva after their pay rise. In addition, we pay our Gillmoss drivers additional time each day, worth 26p an hour on the headline rate.

"We also offer better matching of staff pension contributions, and enhanced maternity & paternity pay, so comparing the headline pay rate tells only half the story.

"I am sorry for the disruption that this strike will cause our customers and we are committed to finding a sustainable solution to this dispute."

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