Bus passengers face day of misery

THOUSANDS of bus passengers in Essex are facing frustration again today after unions confirmed they would be striking again against an “imposed” pay freeze.

James Hore

THOUSANDS of bus passengers in Essex are facing frustration again today after unions confirmed they would be striking again against an “imposed” pay freeze.

Unite members working for First Group in Essex will join colleagues in Yorkshire and the north west in ignoring management pleas to take simultaneous industrial action.

The union says the move is in protest against a zero percent pay freeze imposed by the First board in all of its 19 UK bus subsidiaries.


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In Essex passengers on routes in Colchester, Clacton, Harwich, Chelmsford and other towns could face delays and possible cancellations.

The firm, which has a fleet of 335 buses in the county, last week urged union bosses to re-think the strike.

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But Graham Stevenson, Unite's national officer for transport, said: “Our members up and down the country are simply furious at First's imposed zero percent pay freeze.

“They will not accept it which means serious disruption to services unless First rethinks its position.

“This workforce has delivered all this company has asked of them and more.

“It is only right and fair then that they can take home a wage which helps them support their families. Once again, we appeal to First - meet us nationally, reconsider this aggressive and hostile stance, and work with us to find a fair deal for drivers and maintain the services customers depend on.”

Unite is calling for the implementation of a “just” wages system to raise busworkers' earnings, and re-establish status grades to recognise responsibility and skills.

Alan Pilbeam, the managing director for First in Essex, said before the last day of industrial action the strike would cause inconvenience to the lives of “tens of thousands of our passengers” and severe disruption to businesses in the region.

“We are not asking for pay cuts or even job cuts, only that our drivers continue to work for the same hourly rate as they did last year.

“We will endeavour to run whatever services we can, but it is likely that our customers will need to make alternative travel arrangements,” he said.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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