Stagecoach driver employees across south Wales have begun to take part in planned strike action due to a breakdown in talks with over pay.
Members of the Unite Wales Union started the industrial action at 2am this morning (Tuesday) in the Brynmawr, Cwmbran and Blackwood depots, as they want a pay rise to £10.50 an hour with “no strings attached”. According to the union, while Stagecoach has offered drivers an increase, it was reportedly without paid breaks and a reduction in sick pay agreements.
Nigel Winter, managing director of Stagecoach south Wales, commented that the business has left no stone unturned in seeking to reach a settlement, as its offer would give employees a pay increase of more than 6% and continued access to a pension and other benefits, with sick pay rates at the same level as all other depots in Wales.
He explained that with bus networks across Wales remaining in a “fragile” state as the country emerges from the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, the union’s demand for a 10.5% increase in one step is not achievable without “damaging” bus services.
“The bus services are too critical to people’s lives to let that happen. We have already involved mediation service the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) to try to reach a settlement, and while that has not succeeded to date, we are open to further discussions with Unite,” he said.
Unite regional officer Alan McCarthy added that the response from Stagecoach had been “a bitter pill to swallow”, after workers had delivered the service throughout the pandemic.
“Unite representatives entered into talks with Acas with optimism that there would be movement from Stagecoach. Instead, the message was ‘We think you deserve it, but we don’t want to shoulder the cost’. Stagecoach have been benefitting from public funding, but will not pay a decent wage to workers who have delivered their services throughout the pandemic,” he said.