Ipswich Buses strike action could affect school services

Ipswich Buses and Unite call off strike.

Ipswich Buses and Unite call off strike. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

School bus services in the Ipswich area could be cancelled during a 24-hour strike next week.

Ipswich Buses has informed Suffolk County Council that it will be “unable to fulfil any school contracts on Monday if the strike goes ahead”.

The strike action was announced on Monday as part of an ongoing dispute over pay. About 140 members of the Unite union are expected to stop work from just before 5am in a row over the starting pay for drivers.

The union said two-thirds of the drivers have accepted the new pay rate of £11.00 an hour – up 18 pence an hour – for the pay year June 2016-June 2017 – but the dispute centres on the starter drivers, who earn £8.66 an hour.

The union said the company has offered £8.81 pence an hour – but it wants £10.00 an hour.

A spokesman for Ipswich Buses said: “We have informed the county council that we will be unable to fulfil any school contracts on Monday if the strike goes ahead.” He added that the One sixth-form college service would run.

A spokesman for the county council said “discussions are ongoing” with the bus company.

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Announcing the proposed strike action earlier this week, Unite regional officer Steve Linger said: “We apologise in advance for the severe disruption this will cause those who use the bus services in Ipswich and the surrounding villages in Suffolk.

“We are quite close to what we think is a reasonable settlement, but it will mean Ipswich Buses putting more money on the table. Unite is open for talks before the strike takes place – and urges the company to improve its offer.”