As disputes over pay and conditions at operators around the UK continue, around 200 National Express West Midlands engineers have voted by 93% to strike over pay, said trade union Unite on Thursday 18 January, in a ballot with a turnout of 80%. They could be joined on strike by 3,000 bus drivers, who are also to be balloted for industrial action. The firm’s engineering staff have rejected a pay offer of 10.1%. Unite says that with the real rate of inflation at 13.4%, the offer amounts to a pay cut.
Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said: “Despite its healthy profits, National Express expects the people who generated its cash stockpile to accept de-facto pay cuts. National Express needs to improve their unacceptable pay offer. National Express’ West Midlands engineers have their union’s full backing in striking.”
Dates for any industrial action will be announced in the coming weeks, the union said. In December, drivers at the operator rejected a pay offer for 2023 reported to be worth around 8%. Unite regional officer Sulinder Singh said: “The significant disruption that will be caused to passengers is entirely the fault of National Express’ greed. That disruption will only intensify if drivers also strike. The company needs to get round the negotiating table and put forward an offer our members can accept.”
A National Express spokesperson responded: “We have offered our drivers an average rate increase of 14% from January of last year. We believe that is a fair and responsible offer. It is fair because it recognises the impact of inflation and it is responsible because it will enable us to continue to provide vital services to the public. We are continuing to talk to the union.”