Aberdeen bus drivers to stage Saturday strikes in lead up to Christmas

First Bus drivers have planned two 24-hour strikes
First Bus drivers have planned two 24-hour strikes
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TRADE union leaders today confirmed that bus drivers employed by Aberdeen’s main bus company will stage 24 hour strikes on the two key Saturday shopping days in the run up to Christmas.

• Over 200 drivers, cleaners and ancillary staff employed by First Aberdeen voted by massive majority to stage strikes

• Strikes will last from 4am on Saturday to 4am on Sunday, on the 15th and 22nd December

• First Bus workers refused to accept a one per cent pay rise

Drivers at First Aberdeen have also given notice of a plans to walk out on Hogmanay and to stage a series of mid week two hour stoppages throughout the Festive Season.

The strikes are being staged after more than 200 drivers, cleaners and ancillary staff employed by the city’s main bus operator voted by a massive majority in favour of industrial action after voting overwhelmingly to reject the latest wage offer from management.

They will strike from 4am on Saturday, 15 December, until 4am on Sunday, 16 December, followed by another 24 hour stoppage starting at 4am on Saturday,22 December. The drivers have also given notice of a 24 hour strike staring at 4am on Saturday, 29 December and from 4am on Monday, 31 December.

Two hour strikes at the height of the morning rush hour will also be staged from 7am to 9am on 18 December, 20 December and 27 December.

Mike Flinn, a spokesman for the Unite union, stressed “The last thing we want is to hit the street and have industrial action. We hope that we can get back round the table and finally get something sorted out.

“The company now knows how the staff feel and it is a clear message to them that we need to get this sorted.”

In a strike ballot the First Bus workers who are members of the Unite union voted 207 to 21 in favour of the protest action after refusing the offer of a backdated one per cent pay increase.

Duncan Cameron, director and general manager of First Aberdeen, condemned the Christmas and Hogmanay strikes.

He declared: “It’s clear that the union is intent on causing the maximum amount of disruption and inconvenience. I am truly sorry, should strike action go ahead, that our customers will be affected, particularly in the run up to Christmas. I’m also concerned that many local businesses may suffer too.

“We will be working very hard over the next few days to finalise our contingency plans and establish what level of service we will be able to provide. We are looking at all available options. We would hope to be able inform customers of our exact plans on Wednesday, 12 December.”

He continued: “I’m incredibly disappointed that the union continues to pursue industrial action here in Aberdeen. It is completely unnecessary. Drivers at First Aberdeen earn on average £25k per annum and have the opportunity to earn up to £30k. They enjoy access to an award winning pension scheme and access to award winning employee share schemes as well as a host of other benefits. I believe that outside of London our drivers already enjoy the best package in the UK bus industry.”

Mr Cameron stressed: “First Aberdeen remains committed to further talks, which are planned for Tuesday 11 December. I can assure customers we will do everything we reasonably can to avoid disruption.”