Bus strike cancelled after Ipswich Buses and Unite resolve pay dispute

Ipswich Buses and Unite call off strike.

Ipswich Buses and Unite call off strike. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

A 24-hour bus strike in Ipswich has been called off after a dispute over pay was resolved.

Around 140 Unite union members of Ipswich Buses had been due to go on strike on Monday in a row over starting pay for drivers, causing huge travel disruption, before an undisclosed deal was reached today.

But replacement services for all dedicated school buses arranged by Suffolk County Council (SCC) before the strike was called off will remain in place on Monday, due to the short notice.

Parents have been told to wait with their child until they are on an authorised school bus.

A SCC spokesman said: “We have been informed that the planned strike by staff at Ipswich Buses Ltd has been called off.

“However, given the short notice, Ipswich Buses will not be able to provide the dedicated school bus service on Monday.

“The alternative school bus arrangements we have set up will therefore remain in place.

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“The dedicated buses/coaches for that day will display a yellow sign in the front of the vehicle, with the bus number printed in black, so children know which vehicle to catch.

“The same arrangements will apply for the return journey at the end of the school day, in the usual way.

“We would ask that parents wait with their children on Monday morning until they have seen their child on the bus.

“Normal service will resume on Tuesday.”

Two-thirds of union bus drivers had accepted a new pay rate of £11.00 an hour – up 18 pence an hour – for June 2016-June 2017.

But the dispute centred on the starter drivers, who earn £8.66 an hour. The union said the company offered £8.81 but wanted £10.00. Despite requests, the final agreed figure was not disclosed.

Unite regional officer Steve Linger said: “We have achieved an equitable settlement on the pay for the lower paid third of the drivers.

“As a result, Unite’s drivers at Ipswich Buses won’t be going ahead with Monday’s 24-hour strike and will be working normally.

“We hope to continue to work in a constructive fashion with the management in the future for the benefit of the company, its workforce and the travelling public.”

Jeremy Cooper, managing director of Ipswich Buses, said: “We are pleased we have been able to avert this strike and that our customers will receive a normal service on Monday.

“Like Unite, we look forward to working constructively with them on any future issues.”

For school bus details, visit www.suffolkonboard.com/news/ipswich-buses-strike-action-updated-07-10-16.