Bus drivers move towards strike

FIRST Eastern Counties buses could be off the road from the middle of next month as company drivers move towards strike action against the transport giant.

FIRST Eastern Counties buses could be off the road from the middle of next month as company drivers move towards strike action against the transport giant.

Members of the Transport and General Workers' Union at the company are to be balloted on possible strike action after rejecting a pay deal.

They have decided to organise a strike ballot, which will probably be held within the next week.

The ballot will be held across First Eastern Counties depots in Suffolk and Norfolk.


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The company thinks that its staff in Norwich and Kings Lynn are likely to vote in favour of strike action although Ipswich-based drivers are not thought to be so keen to walk out.

Managing Director Keith Andrews said, "I am disappointed this proposal has been rejected out of hand by the Trade Union. 

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"Any industrial action at this time may have far reaching consequences on the levels of service the company is able to provide in the future".

He added, "Both parties are stressing that doors remain open for further discussions, and we hope to be able to avoid industrial action."

But if there is a strike it is likely to seriously affect services across East Anglia.

Meanwhile threatened industrial action by Ipswich Buses drivers over the loss of their canteen at Tower Ramparts has been averted.

The management and unions have reached agreement over the future running for the canteen and the threat has been lifted.

The proposed strike is the latest blow to First Eastern Counties, which has lost a number of school bus contracts in Suffolk.

One contract was lost with barely two hours notice.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said there had been problems with bus services to Farlingaye High School in Woodbridge last week.

She said: "One afternoon the contracted bus broke down and a replacement had to be sent.

"The next morning another bus broke down and this time First Eastern Counties didn't have a replacement and we had to hire in an Ipswich Buses vehicle.

"That wasn't an acceptable situation so we straight away decided to cancel the First Eastern Counties contract and asked Ipswich Buses to take over pending going out to a fresh tender on that route."

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