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Stagecoach bus driver strike to go ahead after pay talks fail

The planned strike by Stagecoach bus drivers at the Cwmbran, Brynmawr and Blackwood depots looks set to start next week after talks over pay failed.

Stagecoach South Wales met Unite Wales union representatives and ACAS but could not come to an agreement. It now means the first strike could start at 2am on Tuesday 19 October and end at 1.59am on Sunday 24 October

After two rounds of talks, Stagecoach stuck to their offer of £10.10 per hour and refused to move towards Unite Wales’ request of £10.50 per hour. The union said the £10.10 offer from the bus company would also mean negative changes to sick pay and paid breaks.

Unite Regional Officer, Alan McCarthy, said: “Unite representatives entered into talks with ACAS with optimism that there would be movement from Stagecoach. Instead, the message was ‘We think you deserve it, but we don’t want to shoulder the cost’. That’s a bitter pill to swallow, as government funding under the BES2 scheme has been covering operating costs for some time now, and continues until July 2022. Stagecoach have been benefitting from public funding, but will not pay a decent wage to workers who have delivered their services throughout the pandemic.

“The public and political support for our members has been amazing so far, with many drivers receiving encouragement from passengers. Local councilors, MS’s and MP’s have also offered their support, acknowledging that £10.50 per hour is a very reasonable request for the essential work our members carry out.

“We hope that this support continues as Industrial Action commences, as Stagecoach will undoubtedly try and blame their workers for any disruption.”

Unite Wales Regional Secretary, Peter Hughes added: “We know what’s around the corner for working people. Higher fuel prices, a ticking time bomb on energy prices and high inflation driving up the cost of living. Stagecoach say ‘we won’t shoulder the cost’ even though they’ve benefitted from public funding support throughout the pandemic. This is a clear example of employers wanting workers to pay the price of Covid. Stagecoach need to listen to their workers, the public and political stakeholders. These drivers deserve fair pay now, without attacking their terms and conditions.”

A Stagecoach South Wales spokesperson said: “Our staff deserve a good pay rise and we have left no stone unturned in an effort to reach a settlement, as we have already been able to do at other bus depots in South Wales.

“It is very disappointing that our positive ​and flexible approach at the talks at ACAS over many hours has not been mirrored by regional representatives of Unite. Our priority has been to try to reach an agreement that ​delivers a sustainable pay rise for our people ​right now, ​recognising their commitment throughout the pandemic.

“It also ensures the long-term sustainability of the bus network for local communities in what is a very challenging time. We would urge Unite to commit to constructive talks. Strike action will only disrupt bus services that local people depend on to get to work, access education and health, and keep in touch with their families. It will also hit the pockets of our employees and their families.”

Strike action could continue on further days in October and November if a deal can’t be reached.

What buses in Cwmbran, Pontypool and Blaenavon areas are affected by the Stagecoach bus drivers’ strike? 

The Stagecoach website says there will be disruptions to services 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 15, 16, 17, 21, 23, X3, X24 in Torfaen and advises passengers to “make alternative plans for travel during the period of strike action by Unite the union.”

Visit Traveline Cymru for alternative routes.

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Stagecoach bus driver strike to go ahead after pay talks fail

A bus
Photo: Cwmbran Life