“Pay Teesside bus drivers the same as those in the North East” – that’s the message Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham has sent to Stagecoach NE bosses after it emerged that bus drivers working from the Hartlepool and Stockton depots are being offered £1.14 an hour less than their counterparts working from South Shields.
Pay negotiations are ongoing between Stagecoach NE and Unite the union, with industrial action planned for a number of days over November as a result of Stagecoach bosses’ refusal to negotiate pay equally. Instead, negotiations are being carried out on a depot-by-depot basis. This means a bus driver on Tyneside is being offered a 5.7 per cent increase (from £11.60 per hour up to £12.26 per hour) whereas one on Teesside is only being offered a 3.7 per cent increase (£11.12 per hour up from £10.72).
Stagecoach workers, around 800 in total voted, voted 92 per cent in favour of industrial action to protest against “divide and rule” tactics, and poor pay and working conditions. A typical driver can work up to ten hours with a 30 minute break.
Despite seeking public support during the pandemic, Stagecoach have recently reported a £58.1 million profit and £875 million in liquidity.
“I’m appalled that bus drivers on Teesside earn less than their counterparts on Tyneside for doing the same job. There’s simply no good reason for that, nor the refusal of Stagecoach to negotiate pay on an equal footing. It gives the message that Stagecoach bosses value Teesside workers less than others. These divide and rule tactics have to stop.
“Drivers and Unite the union are asking for Stagecoach to get round the table and negotiate a fair pay deal for all; a deal that would mean Teesside drivers get paid the same as those on Tyneside. Stagecoach are hiding behind technicalities in denying equal pay trying to make the case that because the actual companies employing the two groups of workers are different.
“The last thing I want to see are drivers on strike and the inconvenience that will mean for the passengers so I’m urging Stagecoach’s Managing Director to get back round the table and put forward a pay deal that shows Stagecoach thinks Teesside drivers are equal in worth to those elsewhere.”