Bus strike 4 November

Tomorrow (Friday 4 November) RMT Union members will strike on buses in Somerset and Cornwall. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “It is quite obvious that First South West could pay our members a decent wage rise. Instead, they are sitting on their hands hoping this dispute goes away.”

First South West workers are angry. They say that many of their staff are only paid just over £11 an hour and that bosses only offered a small uprate to £12 an hour. Managers at First Group claim that they had offered workers a 17.4 percent pay rise over 2 years. The Union rejects this claim as untrue.

The Union note that First Group owns First South West which itself wholly owns Somerset Passenger Solutions (SPS). For the year ending March 2021, First South West received a dividend income of £2.1 million from SPS. And as we have reported previously, First Group plc made a pre tax profit of £654.1m and operating profit of £806.1m.

Somerset Bus Partnership put out an announcement to warn of the strike action. They say the Somerset bus depots affected by the strike will be Minehead, Bridgwater, Taunton and Yeovil.

David Redgewell from SBP says “We would like to see First group plc and RMT look to settle this dispute for the travelling public. At present buses across the South west of England are only carrying 65 % to 75 % on pre COVID levels. Government funding of £130 million pounds through the bus service recovery grant is keeping services operating.” They are also calling on Somerset County Council to help fund a solution to this dispute 

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