Stagecoach bus drivers vote to strike over pay deal as GMB warns Sunderland is set to 'grind to a halt'
Almost 200 Stagecoach bus drivers will be striking across Sunderland in October after GMB union members voted to take action in a dispute over pay.
Union bosses have warned the city will ‘grind to a halt’ next month following a ballot which closed today, September 26.
Union officials say strike action was ‘the last thing anybody wanted’ but insist workers have been left angry after being offered what it calls a ‘massive real terms pay cut’ of 4 per cent, with 2 per cent to follow later in the year.
The ballot saw 97 per cent of GMB members vote for industrial action on an 83 per cent turnout.
Stagecoach said it was disappointed by the news but stressed to passengers that services would not be ‘adversely affected’ on days of strike action.
GMB Organiser, Stuart Gilhespy, says “the blame lies entirely with Stagecoach”.
He added: “Sunderland’s bus drivers have voted for strike action. This was the last thing anybody wanted, but Stagecoach left them with no choice.
"They are desperately struggling through this cost of living crisis and Stagecoach bosses are trying to force them to take a huge pay cut.
“What’s worse, the company has disrespectful, cavalier attitude to pay talks as GMB members tried to find a compromise.
“Meanwhile Stagecoach has allowed the fleet in Sunderland to decay through lack of investment, depriving the public of a bus service they can be proud of.
"Sunderland will grind to a halt and the blame lies entirely with Stagecoach.”
Steve Walker, Managing Director for Stagecoach North East said: "We are very disappointed that GMB has advised us that its members will be taking strike action from Tuesday 11 October to Saturday 15 October.
"We would like to reassure customers that our services will not be adversely affected on these days of strike action and services will continue to run.
“We have reached agreement with trade unions at our other north east depots, including in South Shields and at the two Newcastle depots, and the proposals we have put forward for Sunderland are similar and represent a good pay deal for our employees.
“We remain open to continuing discussions with the union and would urge them to continue working with us to find a way forward rather than resorting to unnecessary strike action.”