Commuters in the North West face further days of travel disruption throughout the region as drivers at Arriva North West and First Manchester's Rusholme Depot plan another series of 24-hour walk-outs over pay.
Arriva North West has confirmed that planned 24-hour industrial action for 6th, 8th, 13th, 20th, 27th of November 2017. Most notable is that on 8th November 2017, train companies Merseyrail and Northern will be striking on the same date about the role of conductor.
Phil Stone, managing director for Arriva North West said: “There have been further talks with the Union today with an improved offer being made in the hope of preventing further disruptive strike action. Despite this improved offer Unite and GMB remain intent on proceeding with the planned action on Monday 23rd October.”
“We have tabled a fair pay deal for our drivers in the region and so continue to urge our trade union colleagues to reconsider their position and get back round the negotiating table and call off the strike action. Management have offered to meet today or over the next few days before Mondays strike action to try and reach agreement”
“Arriva North West once again wholeheartedly apologises to our customers for the disruption this strike action will cause to their journeys. Arriva customers with pre-paid tickets travelling in Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cheshire will be able to use them on the Merseyrail and Northern rail networks, and all Arriva tickets will be accepted on the Stagecoach Quality Network Routes in Merseyside. ”
“Our priority is to continue working together with UNITE and GMB to reach a mutually acceptable outcome, recognising that any pay increase has to be sustainable for the business going forward.”
John Boughton, regional industrial organiser at Unite, said: “We met Arriva for five and a bit hours yesterday but the talks broke up without agreement.
“They did make an offer but it wasn’t a significant offer. Our members are aware of it but it doesn’t meet their aspirations.
“The company makes a really good profit, particularly in the city. We only want a fair share of those profits.
“We believe the company can afford what we’re claiming.
“We believe the company must take the opportunity to mitigate the damage to its reputation with its customers and with its workforce.”
In Manchester, customers who travel on First Manchester 41 or 42 bus services are being advised that there will be minor changes to the timetables every Monday throughout November. This is due to drivers from Rusholme depot continuing strike action.
Adrian Worsfold, Operations Director at First Manchester, said: “We’re pleased to confirm that we will be operating all of our main services out of the Rusholme depot this Monday. We’d advise customers of the 41 and 42 services to allow more time for travel and we apologise for any disruption that is caused due to these short-term changes.”
Unite regional officer Neil Clarke said: “For four years First Manchester has repeated that pay will be harmonised, but it has always been jam tomorrow – and now our members are fed up with dry bread and the bosses’ stale words.
“The Rusholme drivers do exactly the same job with the same commitment to passenger safety as their colleagues across Greater Manchester – and when they are driving within the city centre, they are even overlapping on the same routes.
“This is a glaring injustice that needs to be rectified urgently by the company which is part of one of Europe’s biggest and most profitable bus groups.
“While we appreciate that the 24 hour strikes on Mondays during October and planned throughout November are inconvenient for the travelling public, I am sure people understand the anger that the drivers feel being paid nearly £5,000 less a year than their colleagues doing the same job a few miles away. This dispute is about natural justice.”