Bus strike could be avoided

UNION officials and bus chiefs are set to meet on Friday in a bid to prevent a crippling strike in Suffolk by attempting to settle an ongoing pay dispute.

UNION officials and bus chiefs are set to meet on Friday in a bid to prevent a crippling strike in Suffolk by attempting to settle an ongoing pay dispute.

Frustrated employees at First Eastern Counties claim the company is months late with its annual pay offer and last month took the step of asking 900 employees across the region whether they would be prepared to ballot on strike action.

Talks between the two sides have so far failed to deliver a deal and have now entered their fourth week.

Despite negotiations taking a long time First employee and union representative, Dave Caller, said he was confident a strike could be avoided.


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Mr Caller said: “It is slow going but we are getting there.

“We held a meeting on Monday where we put forward our views and they put forward theirs but we need more time so we adjourned the meeting until Friday.

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“It will take a bit of movement on both sides but I think we will get there.

“I envisage there will probably be a couple more meetings before we get anywhere.

“Hopefully something will be thrashed out.”

Roger Haywood, spokesman for First Eastern Counties, said: “Discussions are continuing in a positive and constructive mode.

“We are hoping that both sides will be able to reach an agreement very shortly.”

Ipswich was thrown into turmoil last September following a seven-day strike when pay talks between first Eastern Counties and union officials broke down.

Many people struggled to get to work with a vast number of Suffolk's buses coming to a halt.

n. Are you a First Eastern Counties employee? What do you think of the situation? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Weblinks:

www.firstgroup.com

www.tgwu.org.uk

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