Bus network to grind to halt over strike action - The Coventry Observer

Bus network to grind to halt over strike action

Coventry Editorial 12th Mar, 2023   0

THE WHOLE West Midlands bus network is set to shut down when 3,300 National Express WM workers strike over pay.

All will walk out over their salaries on March 16 after 96 per cent of employees voted to take industrial action.

Unite said among that number was more than 200 National Express engineers who voted for industrial action over pay in January.

The union said National Express’ operating profits, released last week, had more than doubled compared to the previous year.

The company reported revenue increased by 29 per cent to £2.8billion. Its underlying operating profits more than doubled to £197.3million, fuelled by an increase in passenger demand across the group.

Unite added, despite this, it had offered all of its workers in the West Midlands, where it holds a monopoly on local bus services, a ‘real terms pay cut’. Some drivers earn as little as £11.80 per hour.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “National Express is sitting on mountains of cash and can absolutely afford to give a pay rise to its staff that reflects rocketing living costs. It needs to do just that.

“Unite defends our members’ jobs, pay and conditions to the hilt and the National Express workforce has their union’s total and unflinching support during these strikes.”

National Express had claimed it offered drivers a 14 per cent rise but the union said the deal was, in factm worth just eight per cent. Drivers have since been offered 11.1 per cent on basic pay, while engineers have been offered 11.5 per cent.

The union added with the real rate of inflation (RPI) at 13.4 per cent, those offers constituted a pay cut and the situation had been made worse by the ‘below industry standard wages paid by the company’.

The strikes will severely impact National Express West Midlands’ services, which cover 93 per cent of the region’s bus network, including in Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull.

Unite regional officer Sulinder Singh said: “National Express’ greed is the reason why the entire West Midland’s bus network will be shut down and it bears the responsibility for the disruption that will be caused.

“Our members do not want to strike but National Express has left them with no choice.

“The company needs to put forward an offer that our members can accept – it can clearly afford to.”


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