Over 1,000 bus drivers set to vote on strike action amid pay dispute

Drivers are set to be balloted after a pay offer from First Glasgow was rejected by 99%.

Over 1,000 bus drivers at First Glasgow set to vote on strike action amid pay dispute iStock

Over 1,000 drivers from First Glasgow are set to be balloted for strike action amid an ongoing dispute over pay.

The drivers have rejected a pay offer by 99% with 85% turnout and claim it falls significantly below the pay levels of other drivers across First Group’s UK operations.

Unite the union confirmed on Tuesday that it is demanding the company, which is part of First Group, offer a pay deal comparable to the best paid drivers in the UK.

Ballots are due to open on Tuesday and will close on November 7.

If the ballot is successful, then industrial action is likely to start in November.

Drivers involved in the ballot are based at depots in Blantyre, Caledonia, Dumbarton, Overtown and Scotstoun.

There is also a similar dispute ongoing involving around 150 Unite engineers at both companies.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Unite’s members at First Bus simply want a fair pay offer and to be paid in line with other First Group bus drivers.

“This is a very wealthy company which has the money in the bank to make a fair offer. First Bus is choosing to boost its profits by undervaluing its drivers in Glasgow which is totally unacceptable.

“Our members have Unite’s total support in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

The union’s own research has revealed the average pay per employee has failed to keep pace with inflation at either Glasgow (No 1) or Glasgow (No 2), the two groups in the First Glasgow operation.

Employees have faced a real terms decrease of 10% at Glasgow (No 2) and 8% at Glasgow (No 2) over the last five years, Unite said, translating to around £3,000 per year in lost pay.

It comes as First Glasgow (No1) reported profits after tax year ending March 26 2022 of £3.96m, whereas First Glasgow (No 2) reported a profit of £362,000.

Graham McNab, Unite industrial officer, added: “There is growing anger among over 1,000 First Bus drivers that they are being significantly underpaid. The latest pay offer just doesn’t cut it when we know First Glasgow has millions sitting in the bank.

“Pay levels have been falling while boardroom pay at the First Group has gone through the roof. Our members will bring First Bus’ operations to a stop in Greater Glasgow unless both companies significantly improve their pay offers.”

A spokesperson from First Bus said: “Following extensive talks with union representatives, we are disappointed that we have been unable to reach an agreement despite making an offer well above the rate of inflation.

“At First Bus, we look after our people and pay them a fair wage relative to the role they perform in the business. Our frontline colleagues perform a vital role, that is why we have heavily invested in improving working conditions, facilities and enhanced benefits for our people such as industry-leading wellbeing support and discounted healthcare. 

“We are keen to avoid any disruption to the daily lives of our customers, who rely on the bus to get to work, education and for appointments.”

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