LEEDS was today told to brace itself for a second bus strike following 24 hours of chaos on the city’s public transport network.
The Unite union has confirmed it is planning another day-long walkout next Monday, June 20, by staff at First, Leeds’s biggest bus operator.
Around 1,000 drivers and customer hosts at First’s Bramley and Hunslet Park depots went on strike yesterday in a dispute with the company over pay.
Services on more than 40 routes in Leeds ground to a complete halt, although First did manage to run a reduced timetable on some key travel corridors.
Unite regional officer Phil Bown told the Yorkshire Evening Post that support among his members for the 24-hour stoppage had been “solid”, with only a handful of workers crossing picket lines in the city.
He also stressed that strike action had been a “final option” and said he would be happy to get round the table with First “whenever and wherever” to try to avert next Monday’s proposed walkout.
Unite is seeking an immediate pay rise of 36p per hour for its members while First is offering a staggered increase of 16p per hour now and a further 20p per hour from January next year.
First Leeds managing director Paul Matthews said he was “very disappointed” that yesterday’s strike action had gone ahead.
He went on: “I’ll do all I can to resolve this dispute whilst recognising that a resolution needs to be affordable as well as valuing the hard work our drivers do. I hope Unite representatives will join me in meaningful negotiation in the near future and call off this further threat of action [next Monday].”
Heavier than usual traffic was reported on roads into Leeds from areas such as Rawdon, Horsforth, Bramhope, Wetherby and Morley during yesterday morning’s rush-hour as regular bus users took to their cars.
Routes where First was able to run a scaled-back timetable included the 1 (Beeston-City-Holt Park), 4 (Pudsey-City-Seacroft) and the 13A (Thorpe Lane-City-Gledhow).
Elland Road park-and-ride services were operating as normal yesterday, as were MyBus and Access Bus services.