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First Bus Manchester warn of 'severe' disruption across services throughout February

  • One driver talking to World Socialist Web Site described the treatment of First Bus drivers as 'modernised slavery'
  • Survey reveals bus drivers are leaving the industry in droves due to low pay, poor working conditions and long hours
  • Drivers demand First Bus backdate a 4.8% wage increase they say should have been paid in August 2021

Three hundred First Manchester Bus drivers are continuing strike action in Oldham this month demanding a pay increase and better working conditions.

The drivers’ basic wage is £12.40 an hour and are demanding First Bus backdate a 4.8% wage increase they say should have been paid in August 2021. 

The Oldham depot operates services across the Greater Manchester area and since strike action began, there has been severe disruption to the company’s services including those between Oldham and Manchester city centre. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Bus drivers, including those at First Manchester, are no longer prepared to accept low rates of pay for the difficult and stressful work they undertake. 

One driver talking to World Socialist Web Site described the treatment of First Bus drivers as “modernised slavery” adding: “We drive for five hours in the morning, without using the toilet and without a drink.” 

Unite regional officer Dave Roberts said: “First Manchester can afford to make our members a fair pay offer but it has chosen not to. Further strikes can be avoided but it requires the company to put forward an improved offer and to return to the negotiating table.” 

First Bus’ financial report for 2021 reveals the government’s COVID Bus Service Support Grant paid any shortfall between revenues and operation costs. First Group’s UK bus operations reported an operating profit of £36.6m. 

A survey by Unite released last year showed 99% of bus garages currently have a driver shortage.  

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This survey reveals that bus drivers are leaving the industry in droves due to low pay, poor working conditions and long hours. 

“Bus companies have got to stop trying to sweep driver shortages under the carpet and start tackling the fundamental problems in the industry.” 

First Manchester ensures customers they will offer refunds to customers affected by the strike action.

Strike action in February is scheduled betyween nw and the end of the month.

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