WORKERS at a city bus depot could be walking out on strike as a row over pay escalates.
The GMB union is to ballot its members at the Wheatsheaf depot for industrial action over this year’s pay award.
Stagecoach has offered workers a 2.4 per cent pay rise over 15 months, a deal which has been rejected by GMB members.
Now, the union is asking staff to vote on whether they are prepared to take action, including a possible walkout.
GMB northern regional organiser Steve Gibbons said ballot papers would be going out next week and the vote was expected to take another week to 10 days.
He said: “We believe the offer is not enough, considering our members have taken below inflation pay rises for a number of years, while Stagecoach have enjoyed decent profits.
“The workloads of our members have increased and there are constant attacks on other terms and conditions by the company.
“The potential dispute comes at a time when Stagecoach is seeking support from GMB members in relation to Quality Contracts.
“Until now that support has been there, but continued attacks on terms and conditions and an undervaluing of the workforce, makes the grass look greener on the other side.
“If the company continues its current path, then it may be a case of ‘stop the bus, I want to try another one’.”A Stagecoach spokesman said: “The company has put forward a range of increases from 2.1 to 2.4 per cent for periods of 12 to 15 months, which the local GMB branch has recommended to members.
“We have not asked for any changes to terms and conditions of work and believe our offers are extremely fair.
“Stagecoach North East has provided secure employment through the recession and continued to invest in our business in Sunderland, whilst absorbing many increasing costs.
“Recent investment includes £2.5million in 21 new buses in the last few months, with a further 17 new gas buses about to go into service.
“We would urge the workforce to accept one of these very reasonable offers.”