The threat of strike action on West Norfolk’s buses appears to have been averted for now after a union won its battle for recognition rights.
A Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) panel has found in favour of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union in its dispute with Norfolk Green over the issue.
The union now intends to press its claim for a full recognition arrangement, on which negotiations are expected to begin soon.
Brian Whitehead, the union’s regional organiser, said: “It’s brilliant news. We look forward to talking to the company.”
Andy Campbell, managing director of Norfolk Green’s parent company, Stagecoach East, said: “We will abide by any decision by the CAC.
“As soon as everything has been ratified, I’m sure we will sit down and talk.”
Last month, the RMT announced it would ballot its members for industrial action over the dispute, which related to union recognition for staff at the Lynn depot, during a rally in the town’s bus station.
It claimed the company was refusing to grant recognition rights, even though a majority of the staff working there are RMT members, because of a region-wide collective bargaining arrangement with the Unite union.
A hearing on the dispute was held before a CAC panel in London last Wednesday.
And its reportt, which was published on Friday, suggests that an agreement was reached between the RMT and company managers prior to the switch of the operation to Stagecoach East at the beginning of May.
The report said: “In an e-mail to the Case Manager dated 12 April 2015 the Union stated that it had met the Employer on 9 April 2015 and that the parties had agreed a bargaining unit.”
It added that both parties had confirmed the arrangement in subsequent correspondence four days later and almost two weeks before the panel was told of the intention to switch the running of Norfolk Green to Stagecoach East.
Mr Whitehead said the panel had “completely thrown out” the company’s claims.
However, Mr Campbell said he believed the previous management had not been keen on completing any union recognition agreements.
The union has been given until tomorrow to indicate how it wants to progress the case following the panel’s ruling.
Mr Whitehead said they would now press their claim for a full bargaining arrangement relating to pay, holidays and other working conditions.
It also wants to discuss concerns about disciplinary procedures, which the union claims have soared in recent months.
However, the company has maintained an appeals process is already in place.