Back on the road! Union holds off on third bus strike in Leeds

A picket line at First's Hunslet Park depot last Monday.
A picket line at First's Hunslet Park depot last Monday.
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Public transport users in Leeds have been handed some timely good news after another day of bus strike chaos in the city.

The Unite union yesterday told the Yorkshire Evening Post it had no immediate plans to call a further strike in its dispute over pay with operator First Leeds.

Unite regional officer Phil Bown said he hoped holding off on a third walkout would provide a fruitful opportunity for the union to get round the table for talks with First.

Mr Bown also said he was conscious of the impact that the dispute was having on the travelling public of Leeds.

Around 1,000 bus drivers and other staff at First’s Bramley and Hunslet Park depots went on strike for 24 hours from 2am yesterday.

The walkout followed an initial 24-hour strike by the same workers last Monday, June 13.

First said it managed to run around 20 per cent of its usual timetable yesterday, more than on June 13. Elland Road park and ride services were among those operating normally.

Speaking about yesterday’s walkout, First Leeds’s managing director Paul Matthews said: “We’re very disappointed Unite have gone ahead with strike action despite being offered a new deal last week that would have given our drivers an increase well above inflation.”

He added: “There are no further talks planned but my door is open for meaningful negotiation to agree an affordable deal but not one that will push fares up for customers.”

As reported in yesterday’s YEP, First has imposed a ban on voluntary overtime this week for striking staff.

The firm admits the ban – branded a “hard ball” tactic by Unite – could lead to isolated service cancellations.

Unite says it was presented with a “pitiful” pay offer at talks involving conciliation service Acas last Thursday.