Around 150 First Bus engineers to be balloted on strike action

Unite the union say engineers in Glasgow and west of Scotland overwhelmingly rejected the pay offer.

Around 150 First Bus engineers in Glasgow and west of Scotland to be balloted on strike action iStock

Around 150 First Bus engineers are set to be balloted on strike action after rejecting a pay offer.

Unite the union confirmed on Thursday that the engineers, based in Glasgow and the west of Scotland, overwhelmingly rejected a pay offer which the union say amounts to a real-terms pay-cut.

The offer was put forward by First Glasgow (No1) and First Glasgow (No 2), both of which are part of First Group PLC’s bus operations in Scotland.

Unite bosses say their own research found that the average pay per employee has not kept pace with inflation at either First Bus company, with a real terms decrease of 10% at Glasgow (No 2) and 8% at Glasgow (No 1) over the last five years.

The union say these pay cuts translate into around £3,000 per year in lost pay.

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

The ballot opens on Thursday and closes on September 28. If the ballot for strike action is successful then action is expected to take place from the middle of October.

Sharon Graham Unite general secretary said: “First Bus is a profitable operation with the two companies we are balloting posting joint profits of over £4m last year.

“First Bus can pay more and they must pay more. If they do not then 150 engineers will be out on strike action very soon fighting to secure the pay rise they deserve. We will support our First Bus members all the way in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

It comes after 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.

First Group PLC Executive director Ryan Mangold saw his total remuneration package hit £3.1m in 2023 up from £1.9m in the previous year, according to figures from the 2023 annual report.

Pat McIlvogue, Unite industrial officer, added: “First Bus is pleading poverty but the only ones getting a poor deal are our members who continue to be paid below inflation. The boardroom instead continues to see executive pay explode.

“The last pay deal our members received amounted to 5.5% over two years. We are now in a situation where inflation skyrocketed into double figures for 15 months in a row. Our members deserve a far better offer and First Bus has an opportunity to make that offer before strike action starts.”

A spokesperson for First Bus said: “We have been notified by Unite that a consultative ballot on industrial action with engineers within First Glasgow will be taking place.

“At First Bus, we look after our people and pay them a fair wage relative to the role they perform in the business. We have invested in upskilling our Engineering colleagues with the necessary training to be able to maintain and assess new state-of-the-art electric buses. As part of our wider business transformation at First Bus, we have also heavily invested in improving working conditions and enhanced benefits for our colleagues.

“We are seeking to resume negotiations with union representatives and are engaging with ACAS to help facilitate a resolution.”

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