Oldham school bus services affected by strike action by First Manchester drivers

Date published: 10 January 2022

Industrial action by bus drivers at First Manchester in Oldham has meant no services will be running today or tomorrow.

This includes many school services and the Yellow School Bus.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has been working with other operators to cover as many services as possible at short notice, however limited driver availability – due to covid-related staff shortages – means not all services can be covered.

The strike - set for today and tomorrow - went ahead after last minute peace talks held on Friday failed to make progress.

The 300 plus drivers who are members of the Unite union, recorded a 99 per cent vote in favour of strike action. Several rounds of negotiations have been held but broke down as First Manchester failed to make an offer which met workers’ expectations.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: "Our members have been hailed as heroes for working throughout pandemic but that praise feels decidedly hollow when First Manchester is refusing to make our members a reasonable pay offer.

"Bus drivers at First Manchester will be receiving the union’s unstinting support until this dispute is resolved.”

Yellow School Bus services are not running

A key sticking point is the company’s refusal to backdate any pay increase to August 2021; the anniversary date for when the annual pay increase was due. The workers say they will no longer accept low pay, with the drivers currently earning £12.40 an hour.

Ian Humphreys, Managing Director of First Manchester, said: "I would like to apologise sincerely to all our customers for the disruption and inconvenience this will cause.

"We have been holding extensive talks with union representatives over the last few days and made every attempt to avoid industrial action, especially given the short notice this creates for our customers to make alternative travel arrangements.”

He added: "We are extremely disappointed that Unite the Union have chosen this course of action at a time when our efforts are focused on protecting jobs and maintaining services for the travelling public.”  

In total 28 services will not run, affecting the following schools:

  • Alder Community High School
  • Audenshaw
  • Bluecoat
  • Co-op Academy, Manchester
  • Great Academy, Ashton
  • Kingsway Park
  • Longdendale High School
  • Mossley Hollins
  • Newman College
  • Oasis Academy
  • Oasis Leesbrook
  • Our Ladys RCHS
  • Radclyffe School
  • Royton & Crompton
  • St Cuthbert’s
  • St Damian’s
  • Waterhead Academy

First Manchester’s depot is in Oldham but it operates services throughout Greater Manchester. The strike will result in disruption to bus services throughout the entire city region.

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