Strikes by First Bus depot workers to 'force services off roads'

Over 100 cleaners, fuellers and shunters contractors from Bidvest Noonan are set to walk out.

Strike action by Bidvest Noonan depot workers in Aberdeen and Glasgow to ‘force First Buses off roads’ iStock

First Bus depot workers in Glasgow and Aberdeen are set to strike in a dispute over pay.

Over 100 cleaners, fuellers and shunters contractors from Bidvest Noonan working at the depots are striking after previously rejecting a 2% pay offer backdated to 2022 at a time when the broader cost of living (RPI) has hit 13.4%.

The workers clean, refuel, and re-charge electric buses in their roles.

Wages at the company start at £9.62 per hour, below the £10.42 per hour that will be the national minimum wage from April while Bidvest Noonan made a profit of £9.5m for the year ending June 2022, up from £5.96m in the year ending June 2021.

According to Unite, with cleaning, refuelling and re-charging of the electric buses not carried out on the days of industrial action, buses across both Glasgow and Aberdeen may have to be taken off the roads for safety and re-charging reasons. 

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said that the company’s pay offer is “totally unacceptable”.

She added: “Quite simply, these buses couldn’t operate without our members who have Unite’s full support as they stand up for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

The strike action will take place at the Glasgow and Aberdeen depots from 3pm on Wednesday March 1, concluding at 6am on Saturday March 4, 2023.  

It will recommence at the Aberdeen depot at 3pm on Wednesday March 8, concluding at 6am on Saturday March 11.

The contract workers in both cities were outsourced by First Bus in Glasgow in 2016, and then December 2020 in Aberdeen.

Wendy Dunsmore, Unite industrial officer said: “The strike action by Unite members working for Bidvest Noonan will lead to First Bus having to take buses off the roads in Aberdeen and Glasgow.

“The 2% offer backdated to last year is totally unacceptable to our members. This dispute is a problem of First Bus’s own making because they outsourced these workers years ago.  Unite is demanding that they be brought back in-house and paid fairly.”

A First Bus spokesperson said: “We understand Bidvest Noonan workers have been balloted in relation to strike action.

“First Bus is assisting Bidvest Noonan to find an agreement that is mutually beneficial to all.”

Bidvest Noonan have been contacted for comment.

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