Oxford hit by second 24hr strike

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Go-Ahead owned firm says existing bank holiday working payments of the equivalent of £48 per hour are reasonable, and rejects union demands for extra £95 payment to each driver

Oxford Bus Company (OBC) workers in the Unite union staged a second one-day strike on Monday (6 March) in a dispute over Christmas and New Year holiday payments.

They were joined on the picket line by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, who threatened to spread the dispute across the entire Go-Ahead group.

Unite has “nearly 450 members” at the company, including drivers, maintenance staff and admin workers

The dispute centres on the annual pay award for the year starting 1 November 2016. The union is arguing for extra pay for the whole workforce for Christmas/new year working.  

Buses were severely disrupted, with only limited services, mainly on on routes 2, 3, 3A, 5, 8, 9 and park&ride500 services. The airline services to Heathrow and Gatwick operated as normal.

Says OBC: “We very much regret the inconvenience caused and we are doing our best to resolve the dispute. 

“In common with many other bus companies across the UK, our drivers received three days’ bank holiday pay over Christmas and the New Year for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years' Day.

“However the union has demanded pay for five bank holidays.”

“Our drivers work hard and drive in very demanding conditions. This is recognised in their earnings and conditions. They are amongst the highest paid bus drivers in the country. Over the last two years their pay awards have been above inflation at 2.5% and 2.7%. 

“We are committed to rewarding those who work unsocial hours.

They were joined on the picket line by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, who threatened to spread the dispute across the entire Go-Ahead group

“Drivers working on Christmas Day were paid double the enhanced Saturday rate and were given a day off in lieu, equating to a payment of £48 per hour worked.

“Those working on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day were rewarded with one-and-a-half times their weekend rate, with a minimum payment of £200.

“In addition they were given a day off in lieu which could either be taken at a later date or paid up, meaning they earned an equivalent of £40 per hour worked. We believe these payments were more than reasonable.

“We have made Unite a number of different additional offers to settle the dispute, including an additional payment of £95 to each driver. Unfortunately the union has not accepted any of these offers. 

“We are committed to restoring a full service as soon as possible to ensure we can provide a service that meets the high standards our customers expect and to keep the City moving.

“To this end, we urge Unite to call off the strike action and to discuss these issues. We are happy to sit around the table for negotiations at any time, in any place.”

In response, Unite GM Len McCluskey said: ““It gave me great pride to announce today that Unite will double the rate of strike pay for the workers so that they can fight for fair treatment without the fear of being starved back to work.

“I sincerely hope that OBC pays heed to the incredible resolution of Unite’s members.  They are in no mood to roll over, and they know that they have the full support of their union in their corner.”