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Another First bus drivers' strike on the cards
BUS drivers have vowed to continue industrial action after a day of strikes in Bridport and Weymouth.
While services were largely unaffected after First Dorset drafted in replacement staff, Unite, the country’s biggest union which represents the drivers, did not rule out further action next week if a solution cannot be reached.
The dispute centres on the pay of the drivers, currently on £8.30 an hour, compared with their regional colleagues, such as drivers at Yellow Buses in Bournemouth who earn more than £10 an hour.
Drivers also want the time spent behind the wheel in one sitting reduced from 5.5 hours.
Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said he was pleased with how the strike was carried out.
He said: “We had a lot of people cheering and waving as they were driving by.
“There was even stronger support in Bridport and I think overall virtually every single one of our members joined the strike.
“We’re glad the company managed to cover the school buses, as it is important to keep the kids in school.”
Mr Lanning said further strikes and other industrial action could take place if the company is not prepared to ‘come to the table’.
He added: “If this does not work then we will be back out on Wednesday, January 29.
“If the company will not move then after that we’ll be looking at other options.”
He denied that services had not been affected by the strike.
“Even if they manage to bring in enough staff from elsewhere, there will be disruption because it takes a while to get to know the roads, which means more services will run late.
“There is an obvious impact on services but that’s not what we want. We want the company to talk to us about this.”
Managing director for First Hampshire and Dorset Marc Reddy said the company is ‘happy to engage’ in talks with the union.
He added: “Our main priority is the customer and I am very pleased that we managed to offer a full service with minimal disruption.
“We are disappointed and frustrated that the unconditional offer of a 1.5 per cent pay increase was not accepted but we continue to be open for negotiation because we believe this is the best way to reach a conclusion.”
Staff including managers and supervisors were drafted in from across Dorset, Hampshire and Berkshire to drive the buses during the 24 hour strike.