Starting on Sunday, 28 November, Stagecoach bus drivers in Sheffield will take strike action for seven days after their talks with Stagecoach about a pay rise were unsuccessful.
Overall, more than 560 workers, across the Stagecoach depots in Sheffield, Barnsley and Rotherham, will go on strike this weekend after the company failed to make meet Unite the union’s demands for an adequate pay rise.
Sharon Graham, Unite’s general secretary, said: “Low pay is the scourge of the bus industry right across this country. Stagecoach made profits touching £60m last year and has £875m in the bank. Yet it cannot make a decent offer to its staff.
Unite is pledged to fight for the jobs pay and conditions of our members so we will be relentless in the campaign to ensure that our members at Stagecoach, in South Yorkshire, get a fair deal.”
Said fair deal could not be reached with Stagecoach Yorkshire yet, who have offered an increase to the hourly pay rate of 4.5%.
Phil Medlicott, Managing Director for Stagecoach Yorkshire, said: “We know that our employees deserve a good pay rise and we have left no stone unturned in our attempts to reach a settlement with Unite.”
Mr Medlicott emphasized that Stagecoach Yorkshire remains open to continuing discussion with the union.
The managing director also said: “We would urge them to call off this unnecessary action which will cause untold inconvenience to local communities and will hit the pockets of our employees and their families.”
Lewis Dagnall, Labour candidate for South Yorkshire mayor, deems the strike action necessary and publicly expressed his support on social media platform Twitter.
Furthermore, he said: “I absolutely think that bus drivers and the support staff have been heroic throughout the pandemic.
They have been keeping that essential public service going so that our key workers could carry on, working in the NHS, for the police and other public services.”
Unite’s regional officer, Phil Bown, said: “Bus workers were rightly hailed as heroes during successive lockdowns. However, warm words do not pay the bills and Stagecoach needs to reward its workers’ dedication with a decent pay award.”
For local resident Alan Horner, strike action has been a long time coming.
He said: “It’s the worst I’ve ever known the public transport in Sheffield and I’ve lived here over 80 years.”
Nevertheless, the strike action leaves many residents frustrated without public transport.
As Catherine Cosworth, 30, said: “It’s going to affect everybody and help no one. I don’t think it’s right, people are going to be stuck because of it.”
Ian Watson, 70, a retiree adds: “It’s going to force us to change our plans as we can’t really get round without the buses.”
As Lewis Dagnall puts it, the simplest solution to the problem posed by the strike action for residents is for Stagecoach to sit down with the union to come to an agreement.
The Labour candidate said: “I think most passengers will say that drivers having real times pay as their reward for having worked through a pandemic is not an unreasonable ask.
The least the bus companies can do is dip into the profits made over the last few years that they have taken out of this public service, and reward their workers.”