Major bus strike called off

A major bus strike has been suspended as Stagecoach drivers are consulted on fresh terms.

A fresh walkout planned by members of Unite the Union proposed for Friday has been put on hold as the bus company put an improved pay offer on the table. Almost 500 workers had already walked out in the dispute last month and held a demonstration outside the Gillmoss depot last weekend.

Now, Unite members will be balloted over the fresh offer from Stagecoach, with a proposed three-day strike called off.

Hundreds of drivers have been involved in the lengthy disagreement with the company, as they argued there was a significant disparity between what they receive and the pay of Arriva drivers working in the city. Unite the union said Stagecoach drivers are paid £1.40 less an hour than their Arriva colleagues, which equates to around £3,000 less over the course of a year.

A strike held last weekend was reportedly linked to a dispute over back pay dating from April. Stagecoach bus services 1/X1, X2 & 471/472 operated by Birkenhead and Preston depots into Liverpool operated as normal during the walkout, as these depots are not involved in the industrial action. Normal service resumed on Tuesday morning, July 9.

Speaking last month, Matt Davies, managing director of Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire said, “We deeply regret the industrial action is taking place and are open to resolving this dispute and are available to hold talks at any time. We genuinely want to settle the dispute but the overall cost of a pay rise needs to be affordable at the depot.

“We’ve informed Unite of a number of ways in which we could resolve the dispute, they involve movement by both parties, and we are willing to do that.”

The strikes threatened to cause traffic chaos amid the thousands of fans descending on Liverpool for the Taylor Swift gigs at Anfield last month. That action was averted following “constructive” talks between the union and the bus operator, which has resulted in an improved offer for the drivers.

Some of Liverpool’s most vital services, including the 82, 86, 10A and 53, could have been affected.

Brian Troake, Unite regional officer, said, “Following a new offer from Stagecoach we are now balloting our members. As a goodwill gesture the strikes that were due to take place from 12 to 15 July are now paused while the drivers are consulted.”

Image credit: Stagecoach

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