Union says sorry to passengers as West Norfolk bus strikes edge closer

King's Lynn Buses New livery ANL-150826-190850009
King's Lynn Buses New livery ANL-150826-190850009
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Bus passengers in West Norfolk could find out later this week when services are set to be disrupted by strike action.

RMT union members who work for Stagecoach in Norfolk, formerly Norfolk Green, last week voted overwhelmingly for industrial action in a dispute over pay.

The union held an emergency meeting on Sunday and now plans to inform the company of its intended action within seven days.

The issue is also due to be discussed at an RMT executive committee meeting today.

An RMT spokesman said yesterday: “We wish to apologise to our passengers for the steps we are about to take, but members are very angry with the offer put on the table.

“We are available to open talks with Stagecoach.”

As first reported in the Lynn News on Friday, almost 90 per cent of members who voted backed strike action.

And more than 98 per cent supported the taking of action short of a strike, such as an overtime ban. The results of the vote were first announced late on Wednesday night.

The union is angry at the company’s offer of a 40 pence increase in drivers’ hourly wage, of which 25p would be drawn from an existing 75p attendance allowance.

The company maintains the offer is fair, above the rate of inflation and addresses other concerns raised by the union.

But the union says it equates to just a 15p rise in the current £8.50 basic rate for drivers and claims the offer is not enough.

Stagecoach had not responded to a request for comment as the Lynn News went to press yesterday.

However, ahead of the RMT’s weekend meeting, regional managing director Andy Campbell appeared to play down the prospects of an agreement.

He said: “We’re willing to talk to them but, from their original aspirations, I think we’re a long way apart.”

That relates to the RMT’s initial call for drivers at the Lynn depot to be paid the same as their counterparts in Cambridge, who receive an extra £3 per hour.

Stagecoach have claimed they could not afford that without a substantial increase in fares, because of a lower level of bus use in Lynn and West Norfolk compared to Cambridge.

But Lynn and District Trades Council secretary Darren Barber urged the firm to return to the negotiating table.

He said: “We will support the RMT workers and help them to secure a fair pay deal. We need new talks to take place on this to come to an agreement.”