‘Out of service’: Commuter chaos as bus strikes hit Leeds
Hundreds of bus drivers from across Leeds joined forces at picket lines in the city earlier this week, after management refused to improve a ‘pitiful’ pay offer.
Employees from First Bus staged a one-day strike on Monday 13th June as the city’s public transport services went into standstill.
Describing the action as the ‘last resort’, their union, Unite, blamed First Bus management’s unwillingness to find a negotiated solution in talks at the conciliation service Acas.
The pay dispute comes at the same time as First Bus cuts the use of ‘bendy’ buses in Leeds, making 45 people redundant to save £1 million per year.
Unite regional officer, Phil Bown, said the drivers and First Bus employees had been left with no other option.
“First Bus makes massive profits from the travelling public in Leeds and the hard work of our members who keep the city on move day in, day out,” he said.
“Strike action is very much the last resort, but faced with management’s refusal to improve on its pitiful pay offer and negotiate meaningfully at Acas, our members feel forced into taking this action.”
First Bus made an estimated £11 million profit from its services in Leeds last year with some senior managers reportedly enjoying a five per cent rise in pay and bonuses.
Meanwhile bus workers were offered a rise of 16 pence an hour for this year and 20 pence for next year.
Mr Bown described the terms as unacceptable and discussions needed to be reopened as a matter of urgency.
“All our members are looking for is fair treatment and recognition for their hard work,” he added.
“We would urge First Bus management to drop its hard line attitude which risks causing disruption for the travelling public and enter into meaningful negotiations to resolve the dispute.”
Bus workers operating out of the Bramley and Hunslet Park depots in Leeds are among the lowest paid in First Bus’s Yorkshire operations with colleagues in Halifax earning up to £2 an hour more.