1,000 Leeds drivers strike over pay

One thousand First Leeds bus drivers will strike indefinitely over pay.

Indefinite strike will cause ‘huge disruption’, says First MD

The action by union Unite will start on Tuesday 26 July. It follows strikes on 13 and 20 June and 8 July.

First has offered an extra 38p per hour, an increase of 3.4% over two years. Unite rejected this and all previous offers, refusing to give all staff an opportunity to vote on the offers, says First.

Instead, Unite has demanded 6% over two years. It claims that First drivers in Halifax earn nearly £2 an hour more than in Leeds, which First disputes as “ridiculous”.

Unite also claims First’s management has taken an “extremely aggressive” stance, with the Unite branch secretary and two other workers dismissed for trade union activity.

First Leeds “strongly rejects” this, saying disciplinary action has been taken over “very serious allegations”.

MD Paul Matthews says: “We have assured all of our staff that we must all respect each other’s opinions and, in line with the law and our own policies, must never behave in a manner that is in any way abusive, intimidating, harassing or threatening.

“We are not in a position to comment on any individual cases but I can confirm that no members of staff have been disciplined for taking part in industrial action or for any legitimate trade union activity.”

Mr Matthews adds: "I'm very disappointed and deeply frustrated that Unite plans such huge disruption for our customers in Leeds. This is not a last resort as Unite claims.

“Not only do we have a planned meeting before Tuesday to try and resolve the dispute, but Unite has repeatedly refused to let all staff vote on our above inflation offers. Unite seems intent on strikes supported by its war chest to pay drivers to strike."

First Leeds operated 25% of services on the last day of strike action, and plans to operate on key corridors, with updates to services available online.

Says Mr Matthews: "My team and I will continue to do all we can to bring this dispute to an end with a very fair and reasonable pay offer for our hard-working drivers, but not one that will damage the future of the business and bring fare rises for our customers."