New bus strike is ON after pay talks fail

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Bus services in Leeds will be hit by strike action again at the start of next week, it was confirmed today.

Transport firm First Leeds said the Unite union had called a 24-hour strike for Monday, June 20.

Around 1,000 drivers and customer hosts at First’s Bramley and Hunslet Park depots staged a 24-hour walkout on Monday this week in a dispute with the company over pay.

Buses on more than 40 routes in Leeds ground to a complete halt, although First did manage to run a reduced timetable on some key travel corridors.

Talks involving conciliation service Acas were held yesterday in what proved to be an unsuccessful attempt to avert a second strike.

First Leeds managing director Paul Matthews said today: “This is very disappointing news that will create massive inconvenience for our customers as well as hardship for our staff.

“We’ve again presented several ways that the union’s demand could be met to try to end this dispute.

“Our offers continue to be well above inflation, as the pay deals have been each year for the last four years.”

Mr Matthews added: “I remain determined to bring this dispute to an end with a very fair and reasonable pay offer for our hard working drivers but not one that will damage the future of the business and bring fare rises for our customers.”

Unite is seeking an immediate pay rise of 36p per hour for its members while First is offering a staggered increase of 16p per hour now and a further 20p per hour from January next year.

Monday’s strike will only affect First’s services in Leeds, with the firm due to operate as normal in Bradford, Huddersfield and Halifax.