Stagecoach Merseyside drivers vote to strike

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Stagecoach Merseyside drivers plan strike action alongside rail disruptions

Liverpool commuters are due to face disruptions after Stagecoach Merseyside drivers announced they intend to strike for two weeks. An estimated 120 bus drivers, based at Stagecoach Rock Ferry garage will walk out for a fortnight on Wednesday, December 28, due to a lengthy dispute over pay.

This comes at a time of pandemonium for Liverpool Rail users as renovation work on the Wirral Loop line is due to take place.

There will be no rail services between Birkenhead and Liverpool for a period of six weeks and local operator Merseytravel is providing a rail replacement bus service. The strike is due to end at midnight on Tuesday January 10. One week after the planned works begin.

Despite other operators such as Arriva and Merseytravel providing dedicated fleets to ease the disruption to cross-river commuters, the Stagecoach strike is likely to have an effect. Unite said it was taking the action because drivers had not had a pay rise since 2015 and after eight months of negotiations, the company had failed to increase its offer of 1.5% for 2016 and 2% for 2017.

Unite regional officer Ritchie James told The Liverpool Echo: “Unite has been involved in extensive negotiations with Stagecoach to secure an increase that reflects the contribution our members have made to the financial profitability of the company.

“After eight months of negotiation, the bosses have said that any offer can only be improved if it were self-financed by the drivers, which is totally unacceptable as inflation begins to rise.

“The company was prepared to offer inferior terms to ‘new starters’ to enhance the pay by five pence per hour for current drivers – this would have seen a reduction of £620 for the first year of employment of every new driver coming to work at Rock Ferry.

“This is completely unacceptable to our members who have seen the company put the same offer to the workforce on three occasions and for the offer to be rejected on each occasion.

“The offer for 2016 of 1.5 per cent is in the bottom ten per cent of pay settlements that have been negotiated with Stagecoach across the UK by Unite. The two per cent offer for 2017 is well below the inflation forecasts for next year.

“Our members are taking action as a last resort as this very profitable company is not prepared to fairly reward the Merseyside drivers who have contributed to that success.

“The fortnight of strike action will cause severe disruption to bus passengers on Merseyside which we regret. However, Unite’s door is open 24/7 for constructive talks with the management to reach a settlement.”

A Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire spokesperson told The Liverpool Echo: “We respect our Birkenhead depot employees’ right to strike and support an open dialogue between senior management and the union, Unite, to reach the best possible solution. We are committed to resolving this dispute and are doing our utmost to minimise passenger disruption.

“Services which may experience minor delays or timetable changes during this time include: Liverpool to Chester via Wirral services – 1 and 2; Wirral to Liverpool services – 471 and 472, Local Wirral services -, 38, 41 and 42.

“We are working hard to minimise the effect on passengers during this busy time and passengers are advised to check the Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire website or Stagecoach Bus app for service updates before travelling. We will also be providing live updates and support on Twitter @Stagecoachmcsl from December 28 throughout the period (excluding Monday January 2).”