Travel disruption expected as bus drivers plan strike action

First published in Devon

Passengers can expect more disruption after bus company First said the RMT Union has announced a 24-hour walk out by bus drivers and engineers on Thursday.

Customers who use First bus services in Devon are advised to prepare for "significant disruption" on Thursday and should consider finding alternative ways to make important journeys.

A spokesman for bus operator First said the company has been informed by the union that they will stage a further 24 hour walk out on Thursday 15 November, and that it will affect all First depots in Devon and Cornwall.

The spokesman added that while the company is still working hard to resolve the issue, the planned walk out could mean that many services across the two counties could be significantly disrupted, and that some may be entirely suspended for 24 hours, from 00.01 until 23.59 hours on Thursday.

A note to union members from The RMT on November 9 said: "The overwhelming consensus is to reject this offer on the grounds that the company are refusing to pay the back pay. The company have deliberately dragged out the negotiations in order to dilute the first year of the offer by not including back pay."

First’s management team has met with the RMT Union on a number of occasions in recent weeks. It tabled another a deal on Friday, November 2, which it said offered staff a two per cent pay increase from December 2 and a further 2.3 per cent increase from April next year – but the company has been informed that this has been rejected by the Union.

 The company is now planning to communicate directly with the staff to ensure that the details of the latest offer are put to individual employees, while it is  looking at what services could run on Thursday if the planned action does go ahead. The company is also considering calling in the services of ACAS to help find a long term solution to the issue.

Chris Bainbridge, from First said: “We are incredibly disappointed and frustrated that the Union has called for this action for a second time.

“This action is deeply regrettable and extremely disappointing, not least because measures like this cause undue disruption and anxiety for hard working people, who rely on our local bus services to get to school, work and leisure destinations.

In Devon the company hopes to run services to Tavistock School and a reduced Park and Ride Service in Plymouth (with buses running up to every 15 minutes, rather than every 7 minutes on normal days).

All other services are expected to be severely disrupted. Up to date details regarding the disruption will be communicated via the company’s website and via its Facebook and Twitter pages as soon it becomes available.

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