Stagecoach workers picket Hartlepool depot as part of strike action over pay
Tens of Stagecoach workers gathered outside the bus company’s Hartlepool depot as part of strike action over pay.
The picket line outside the depot’s main entrance gates included drivers, engineers, cleaners, supervisors, managers and administrative staff after they “overwhelmingly” voted in favour of industrial action.
Picketers could be seen holding up banners stating “Driving Up Pay For Bus Workers” and waving red union Unite flags.
A number of motorists driving past the Brenda Road site could be heard sounding their horns in support.
In response, Stagecoach said it was “disappointed” by Unite’s actions and claimed the union’s representatives "seem determined to forge ahead with strike action”.
Yet Unite general secretary Sharon Graham insisted: “Bus workers deserve far better than low pay and below inflation pay offers.
“These are not pay rises - they are pay cuts and utterly unacceptable. Stagecoach’s penny pinching must end.
“In recent weeks, Unite members employed by Stagecoach throughout the UK have been drawing a line in the sand, demanding and winning decent pay deals. Unite will win for Teesside and Hartlepool’s bus workers too.”
Unite regional co-ordinating officer Mark Sanderson added: “The strikes will cause considerable disruption to bus passengers throughout Teesside but this strike is entirely of Stagecoach’s own making.
“The refusal of Stagecoach to take part in formal negotiations in an attempt to resolve this dispute speaks volumes about their disregard for the passengers and workers of Teesside.”
Responding to the situation, Steve Walker, managing director for Stagecoach North East, said: “We’re extremely disappointed that the action being taken by Unite means that we are unable to run any bus services on strike days, and reduced timetables on non-strike days, from Monday November 8.
“We recognise that our employees deserve a good pay rise and we have held flexible and positive discussions in our attempts to reach a settlement with Unite.
“Despite agreeing terms with the GMB Union in Sunderland and with Unite in the majority of other UK depots, it’s very disappointing that this has not been mirrored by representatives of Unite in Teesside and Hartlepool, and instead they seem determined to forge ahead with strike action."
Mr Walker has also defended the deal which has been offered.
He added: “The Unite union has so far refused to reach agreement on bus drivers covering Stockton and Hartlepool, despite being offered a deal which would result in pay being increased by four per cent since the start of the pandemic, reflecting inflation over the period.”
Stagecoach North East operates under the trading names Busways Travel Ltd and Cleveland Transit Ltd and the union feel the company is “penny pinching” in the face of what they say are considerable profits made by the company as a whole.
The strike action involves over 200 employees based in Hartlepool and Teesside.
There will be a further nine days of strikes this month November with an additional two days of industrial action planned for December 2 and 4.
Stagecoach has confirmed it will be “unable to provide any local bus services” on the days of strike action but stresses that pre-paid customer tickets will be accepted for travel on local buses operated by Arriva.