Sunderland Stagecoach bus drivers to ballot over strike action - here's what union and company have said

Sunderland bus passengers could be facing disruption to services, with Stagecoach drivers set to vote on a walkout.

Almost 200 members of the GMB will be balloted on industrial action over pay later this month.

The union says members are angry after being offered a rise of four per cent, with two per cent to follow later in the year.

The ballots opens on September 12 and closes two weeks later. Any strike action would take place in October.

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GMB organiser Stuart Gilhespy said: “Stagecoach drivers in Sunderland worked throughout the pandemic, transporting essential workers to their place of work.

“They put their lives at risk during the pandemic to serve their communities – with some drivers catching the covid.

“This offer falls far short of reflecting any commitment to employees.

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Stagecoach bus drivers are set to vote on strike action

“GMB is calling on Stagecoach to put a decent pay rise, in line with inflation, on the table for our members.

“Unless they do, workers will walk out and bring Sunderland to a halt.”

A senior Stagecoach North East manager criticised the GMB’s decision to reject a pay deal for workers in Sunderland and push ahead with a strike ballot.

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Managing director Steve Walker said the company had been trying to work with the union to reach an agreement : "We are very disappointed that GMB is pressing ahead with a ballot for strike action,” he said.

"We believe our proposals represent a good pay deal for our employees, having been accepted by depot teams in other areas.

"Despite the proposed action, we would like to assure customers that bus service levels will remain unaffected during this time,” he said.

"We have worked constructively with GMB and our pay proposals set out to ensure the long-term sustainability of the bus network for local communities, at a time when passenger numbers are significantly below the level needed to cover the costs of running services.

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“Stagecoach North East has already reached agreements with trade unions at other North East depots, including in Newcastle. We remain open to continuing discussions with the union and would urge them to continue working with us to find a way forward.”