NATIONAL EXPRESS TO SEE STRIKE ACTION
Around 3,300 bus drivers and engineers at National Express in the West Midlands are set to go on strike later this month.
Almost the entire West Midlands bus network will be shut from March 16 as a result of all- out action which will continue indefinitely in the ongoing row over pay, after more than 3,000 bus drivers voted to strike.
They will be joined by more than 200 engineers who voted in favour of industrial action in January. The strikes will severely impact National Express West Midlands’ services which cover 93 per cent of the region’s bus network.
The industrial action will act as a double whammy for commuters as it will begin on the same day as strike action by railway workers from Network Rail and the RMT union.
The news comes on the same day as Birmingham based Nation Express announced its 2022 financial results, posting a £620 million rise in revenue to £2.8 billion but seeing pre-tax losses increase year on year from £84.9 million to £209.9 million.
Unite said the row was fuelled by a pay offer from the Digbeth-based listed group which it claimed represented a real-terms pay cut, with some drivers earning £11.80 per hour.
The union said National Express had offered drivers 11.1 per cent on basic pay while engineers had been offered 11.5 per cent. The strike action does not include National Express’ coach business.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “National Express is sitting on mountains of cash and can absolutely afford to give a pay rise to its staff that reflects rocketing living costs.
National Express said in a statement: “It needs to do just that. Unite defends our members’ jobs, pay and conditions to the hilt and the National Express workforce has their union’s total and unflinching support during these strikes. This is an extremely disappointing result. Since the ballot, we have offered the union a pay deal for drivers worth 13.4 per cent made up of 11.1 per cent for 2023 and a retention payment worth 2.3 per cent.
This is on top of the six per cent our drivers received in November. This will see the majority of drivers earn over £30,000. The union has turned it down without even giving our drivers a chance to vote on it.”
It also said: “How many people reading this can say they’ve been offered a 19 per cent pay rise in a year? Only 60 per cent of drivers voted in favour of industrial action on an out-of- date offer of 8.1 per cent and yet multimillion-pound union Unite would see their members out of pocket and the lives of the people of the West Midlands disrupted to score political points.
The union is using our hard-working drivers as bargaining chips, playing with people’s lives without giving drivers a vote on it. We sincerely apologise to our customers for the significant disruption that Unite will cause and we are continuing to talk to them to seek to avoid strikes.
We anticipate a very limited service running on strike days and customers can keep updated via our website. We urge our drivers to stand up to the union, reconsider industrial action and keep the West Midlands moving.”