First West Yorkshire bus drivers strike over pay

First West Yorkshire strike
Credit: Tupungato / Shutterstock.com

A total of 800 First West Yorkshire bus drivers in Leeds have begun continuous strike action as of yesterday (18 June) in a dispute over not moving the date on which new pay rises are enacted back to its original month.

The workers are based out of First West Yorkshire’s two Leeds depots and are members of trade union Unite.

They came to an agreement with the business during the pandemic to change their anniversary pay date to October for financial reasons but have since stated that their employer has refused to move the date back to April. They explained that they have taken strike action as they will now not receive a pay increase until October at the earliest and are struggling during the cost-of-living crisis.

According to the union, FirstGroup announced back in March that its operating profits for 2023 are expected to be higher than the previously estimated £137.4 million. In 2022, it brought in operating profits of £226.8 million.

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A First West Yorkshire spokesperson said: “From Sunday 18 June our Leeds City services and Park and Ride will be severely disrupted by industrial action which will mean most services will run to a limited frequency. Regrettably some services, including FlexiBus, will not operate. We apologise for the inconvenience this will cause, especially to those customers whose services will not be running during the industrial action.”

Sharon Graham, Unite’s general secretary, added: “When First West Yorkshire needed its drivers to dig deep, they did. Not only did they put their and their families’ health on the line by continuing to drive First buses, they also agreed to delay getting a pay rise. First Group have taken advantage of this to keep their drivers’ wages down as inflation has rocketed. Our members are absolutely right to strike at what is essentially a stab in the back by First West Yorkshire and they will receive Unite’s total support.”