Two more bus strikes called in Leeds

Bus drivers on the picket line at Hunslet Park during one of last month's strikes.
Bus drivers on the picket line at Hunslet Park during one of last month's strikes.
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Public transport users in Leeds were today told to brace themselves for two more bus strikes.

Members of the Unite union working at operator First are set to walk out for 24 hours from 2am this Friday, July 8.

A second stoppage is due to follow from 4am to 10am next Monday, July 11.

Your say: More bus strikes called in Leeds

Around 1,000 bus drivers and other staff at First’s Bramley and Hunslet Park depots staged two 24-hour strikes last month in their ongoing dispute with the operator over pay.

First was only able to run about 20 per cent of its normal services during the walkouts.

The firm’s managing director in Leeds, Paul Matthews, attended a Unite branch meeting in the city last night in the hope of averting further strike action but it ended without an agreement being reached.

Mr Matthews said today: “To try and bring this dispute to an end we’ve offered a revised deal, again providing a substantial pay increase way above inflation, that Unite have refused to put to all drivers for their consideration.

“Yet again this will mean our customers will suffer because of this unnecessary action by Unite.

“I will continue to do all I can to resolve the dispute but I won’t be forced to introduce a pay increase which the company cannot afford and would push fares up for customers.”

Unite regional officer Phil Bown said: “The latest insulting offer works out at 38 pence an hour extra for the next three years – basically, 18 pence an hour in real terms.

“This is from a company that last month announced a UK-wide annual profit for its bus division of £52m – £11m of which came from its Leeds operations.

“This is a profitable company that is treating not just our members with contempt, but also the travelling public, by its failure to negotiate in good faith.

“We understand the inconvenience these strikes will cause the public on Friday and Monday – striking is a last resort of our members – but how many bus users would be happy to be offered 38 pence an hour extra for the next three years? I suspect, not very many.”

Bus services operated by First in Bradford, Huddersfield and Halifax will be unaffected by the forthcoming strikes.