Potential strike brewing at Stagecoach South West

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Hundreds of bus workers at Stagecoach South West are to be balloted for strikes in a dispute over pay, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at the companywill vote in the coming weeks on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action. The dispute covers more than 750 bus drivers, cleaners and engineering workers in Exeter, Torquay and Barnstaple.

RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash, said: “Bus workers in the South West provide an essential service across a wide geographical area and they deserve a fair deal on pay.

“At the moment they are being offered a package that stacks up to a de facto pay cut and RMT’s executive has agreed with our local branches that that is entirely unacceptable.

“Final preparations for a ballot for both strike action and action short of a strike are now under way and we will release the timetable shortly.”

Bob Dennison, Managing Director of Stagecoach South West, said: “We have worked closely with union representatives over several months to try to agree a pay deal. Throughout this process, we have done our utmost to present a series of offers that meet their expectations whilst also being affordable for the long-term sustainability of the region’s bus network.

“Following our most recent meeting, I was confident that we had made progress, particularly as I was advised the offers were to be put to members for their consideration. It’s therefore disappointing that the RMT has now chosen to embark on a completely different course of action.

“However, I remain confident that, with open and honest dialogue and commitment on all sides to exploring all the options on the table, we will still be able to reach an agreement that is in everyone’s best interests.”