Strike warning in King’s Lynn bus drivers’ pay dispute

RMT Demonstration at King's Lynn Bus Station ANL-150526-170100009
RMT Demonstration at King's Lynn Bus Station ANL-150526-170100009
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Bus passengers in West Norfolk are being warned of the prospect of industrial action for the second time this year, this time in a dispute over pay.

Earlier this year, Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union officials began to ballot for industrial action among its Norfolk Green staff in a dispute over union recognition, which was subsequently resolved in its favour.

But workers at the Lynn depot, owned by Stagecoach, are now said to be “incensed” over their latest pay offer.

The union is recommending to its members to go to ballot for industrial action.

But bosses at Stagecoach say the offer is fair and have vowed that passengers will be not inconvenienced.

Brian Whitehead, regional organiser for the RMT, said: “My recommendation to the membership is if they want better than they have got they are going to have to fight for it.

“The feedback we have got so far is that they are insulted and prepared to fight and that is what we will do on their behalf.

“Unless Stagecoach move, there will be a ballot soon.”

Drivers are currently paid £8.50 an hour with a 75p an hour attendance allowance.

The RMT want to see 125 Lynn drivers paid in line with their counterparts in Cambridge who receive £3 an hour more.

The union says Lynn drivers have been offered a 15p an hour increase for this year, followed by 20p in 2016 and 29p in 2017.

But these figures have been disputed by the company. Stagecoach says its offer would see 25p of the attendance allowance and additional 15p would bring the hourly rate to £8.90 for this year. The hourly rate could rise to £9.35 in 2016 and £9.89 in 2017.

Mr Whitehead said the company’s pay offer is not “no where near enough to live on”.

He said: “We have asked for the pay offer to be put in writing and then we will liaise with our members. They are really incensed and find the offer insulting.

“The company have just said ‘tough’ and would not even debate it or talk about it.”

Managing director of Stagecoach Andy Campbell said the business can only afford to pay what profit it makes and that it was a “lovely aspiration” for Lynn drivers to want the same pay as Cambridge colleagues.

He said: “Cambridge has a higher volume of people using the bus services therefore it can afford to pay higher rates of pay.

“I would like the staff to consider the offer and look at it in terms of what is happening in terms of other industries. I believe it is a fair offer.
“If there is a dispute we will do our best so our customers will not be inconvenienced.”