Plymouth bus drivers in pay dispute vote for strike
BUS drivers and depot staff are gearing up for strike action in a pay dispute set that threatens to impact on services.
First Devon and Cornwall staff have overwhelmingly backed industrial action.
Transport union RMT – the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers – said the vote "draws a line in the sand" as they fight to protect workers' standards of living.
RMT members voted by almost 85 per cent for strike action, and by more than 90 per cent for action short of a strike.
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Bob Crow, RMT general secretary, said there were more than 100 First staff in Plymouth and the vast majority were union members.
The ballot follows the rejection of what the union called a long overdue pay offer.
The First proposal is self-funding – meaning it would have no cost impact on the company and ring-fences their profits.
The union said it included the loss of paid walking time, the removal of time to do a visual "walk round" check when taking a bus over mid shift and dilution of sick pay benefits.
It follows the removal of the final salary section of the pension scheme, already implemented despite fierce union objections.
Mr Crow said: "This massive mandate for action by RMT members reflects their anger at the failure to come up with a serious pay offer and the attempt to bind up what is on the table with a whole load of strings to make it self-financing at the expense of the workforce.
"The company must take this situation seriously and RMT's executive will now consider the next move in this dispute.
"Our ballot draws a line in the sand as we fight to protect standards of living."
A First spokesperson said: "We are disappointed that First's very competitive offer has been rejected by the RMT, which included a wage increase of 7.1% over two years, 3.2% dependent on changes to efficiency, performance and other contractual terms.
"Though the outcome of the ballot was in favour of strike action or action short of a strike, First has not yet been notified of what form that may take. We are keen to avoid disruption to our services or inconvenience to the hardworking people who use them. We are hopeful that further meetings with the union's representatives will be constructive."