The first of a series of planned one day strikes by Stagecoach Bluebird drivers in North East Scotland took place on November 11th. The dispute is over pay, as one driver commented, "The first offer for a driver on £8.20 an hour was a 37p-per-hour increase until April, followed by an hourly rate until 2010 of £8.89. The second offer was £9 an hour from October to March. The management are trying to say this is a 10% rise but, in reality, it is only 4.7%, as it is a six-month deal until April, when we should be negotiating a pay deal for the next year."
A Stagecoach Bluebird spokesman said: “We have had an unprecedented positive response from our employees, which meant we have been able to run a close-to-normal bus network across the north of Scotland. John Taylor, regional industrial organiser for Unite T&G, said: “From our point of view the strike was a success and, despite management’s efforts to bus people in from all over to take buses out, there has been severe disruption to services.
Depite pickets at depots in the area, some 200 drivers turned up for work. In addition, 160 voluntary drivers from as far afield as Devon also joined these to drive during the strike. Amongst those working were Brian Souter, Chief Executive of Stagecoach who did a 9 hour shft driving a service 59 (Northfield-Aberdeen City Centre-Balnagask). Mr Souter commented, "I do this every year. I always do a couple of days driving. I was supposed to be in Dundee today but I thought I would come up and help the lads. I find the strike very regrettable. Most people don't want to be on strike. I think Aberdeen has a great workforce and this is the first time in 17 years we've had an issue like this."
During the strike, passengers were charged a £1 flat fare irrespective of where they were travelling.
Further strikes are planned on November 21st and 24th. (Photos: LEYTR/Stagecoach) (PW)