Oldham bus services affected by further strike action.

Date published: 19 January 2022

First Bus services in Oldham will be hit by strike action tomorrow, in a dispute over pay. 

In addition - a further 12 days of walk outs have been announced, starting at the end of this month, after what's described as "The company’s failure to make an improved offer to resolve the dispute."

New days for strike action start on Monday 31 January and then the following dates in February 1, 4, 7, 8, 9, 15, 17, 18, 21, 23 and 25.. 

In effect the 300 plus drivers, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, will be striking for three days a week next month.

There have already been three days of strike action in the dispute and further strikes dates have already been announced for 20, 24 and 26 of January.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Bus drivers, including those at First Manchester, are no longer prepared to accept low rates of pay, for the difficult and stressful work they undertake.

“Unite now does exactly what it says on the trade union tin: it always fights to defend our members’ jobs, pay and conditions. The union will be providing its full support to our members at First Manchester until this dispute is resolved."

The drivers have made it clear that they will no longer accept low rates of pay for the highly skilled, demanding and responsible role they undertake.

The drivers’ basic wage is £12.40 an hour. A major sticking point in the dispute is First Manchester’s refusal to honour the anniversary date of 1 August (when the pay increase for 2021 was due to come into effect) and to backdate the pay increase from this date.

                                                           Fresh talks sought

Unite regional officer Dave Roberts said: “Strike action has already caused considerable disruption for bus passengers throughout Greater Manchester. This was directly a result of First Manchester’s refusal to make an offer which meets our members’ expectations.

“First Manchester can afford to make our members a fair pay offer but it has chosen not to. Further strikes can be avoided but it requires the company to put forward an improved offer and to return to the negotiating table.”

The company’s depot is in Oldham but it operates services across the Greater Manchester area. Since strike action began there has been severe disruption to the company’s services.

                                                  First Manchester Response

Ian Humphreys, Managing Director of First Manchester, said: “Despite the efforts we have already made to meet what we were told were agreed demands, union officials have announced their intention to hold further strikes. 

“The Company has offered a substantial increase to £13 per hour, along with a lump sum payment. We have also offered to equalise the rate for school bus drivers with that for service bus drivers which would mean an even greater increase for this group of colleagues.  

“There are no changes to our colleagues’ conditions and whilst reference has also been made to rota patterns, this is simply about the introduction of a previously agreed, shared plan to update recruiting and working practices to fulfil the Company’s commitments to diversity in the workplace.

“I would like to apologise sincerely to all our customers in advance for the disruption and inconvenience any continued action would cause. This is a decision by Unite when it would be better to keep talking to understand how our substantial offer can be agreed.

“Industrial action has huge impact on the community and damages confidence in using the bus, so I urge union representatives to reconsider their action and continue talking with us to resolve this dispute.”

Do you have a story for us? Want to tell us about something going on in and around Oldham? Let us know by emailing news@oldham-chronicle.co.uk , calling our Oldham-based newsroom on 0161 633 2121 , tweeting us @oldhamchronicle or messaging us through our Facebook page. All contact will be treated in confidence.

While you are here...

...we have a small favour to ask; would you support Oldham Chronicle and join other residents making a contribution, from just £3 per month?

Oldham Chronicle offers completely independent local journalism with free access. If you enjoy the independent news and other free services we offer, please consider supporting us financially and help Oldham Chronicle to continue to provide local engaging content for years to come. Thank you.

Support Oldham Chronicle