Aberdeen Bus Strike: ‘What are we supposed to do - sign these new contracts on our knees?’
Talks to end strike action by First Bus drivers in Aberdeen collapsed today when First refused to move on wages for new drivers.
The negotiations began on Monday evening and lasted five hours into today, but could go no further when First Aberdeen insisted on lower starting salaries for new drivers. Despite the austere cuts to sick pay, holiday pay, wage cuts, and paid breaks, the union was willing to enter negotiations. But First failed to count on the solidarity of the drivers, who refused to sell out new employees.
This breakdown follows the news from yesterday that First Bus has hired sixty bus drivers from England in order to break the strike. Instead, the resolve among the strikers is only hardening.
Unite First Bus Branch convenor, Mike Flinn, said “It’s no wonder that the drivers are ready to go on indefinite strike. And it’s no wonder the mood is getting more hard line. These proposals mean that many drivers will be losing more than £5000 a year on their earnings. First Bus Managing Director likes to talk about give and take. Well it’s Unite members that are doing the giving and First Bus doing the taking.”
Unite Branch Convenor at First Bus Aberdeen Mike Flinn added “We thought we had reached a proposal which could be put to our members. But every time we get to that point First demands more and more. They don’t know the meaning of ‘enough’. What are we supposed to do - sign these new contracts on our knees?”
These strikes come at a time when Scottish Labour is preparing to fight a tough legislative battle to crack down on rogue transport companies and expand municipal ownership. Their plans also new rules for workers’ rights as a part of the procurement process. First Bus may want to move on their own intransigence before the law moves without them.