Travel chaos threat to Peterborough as bus workers gear up for 10 days of strike action
Hundreds of bus workers are gearing up for 10 days of strike action that threatens to cause travel disruption in Peterborough in the New Year.
Workers at Cambus, part of Stagecoach East and which runs 90 per cent of Peterborough’s bus services with 180 staff in the city, are poised to take industrial action from January 4 as part of a pay dispute.
Officials of the union Unite say staff have not received a pay rise since April 2019 and have now voted by 96 per cent to hold the 10 strike days, which will run until January 20.
Unite says a 1.5 per cent pay offer that was to start from April 2021 with a further 1.5 per cent this month for the pay year 2021/22 was rejected against a background of rising inflation and Stagecoach East’s new fare structure.
But bosses say they are hopeful an agreement with staff will be reached and which will avoid travel disruption for the public.
About 400 Cambus workers, including drivers, engineers, cleaners and shunters, in Peterborough, Cambridge and Fenstanton, are involved in the dispute.
Unite regional officer Mark Plumb said: “Our members should not pay for the continuing pandemic, while the employer has readily scooped up UK taxpayer support, including cash from the furlough scheme.
“The 10 days of strike action will, unfortunately, cause travel chaos for bus users across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
“However, there is now a window of opportunity for the management to come forward with a realistic pay offer for our members that reflects the fast-rising rate of inflation, otherwise the strikes will go-ahead.”
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “We will be standing 100 per cent behind our members at Cambus who have not had a pay rise since April 2019.
“They have suffered a dramatic cut in pay in real terms, especially as inflation has now reached a decade-high of 7.1 per cent and household bills have gone through the roof.
“Despite Stagecoach pleading poverty, the company remains extremely profitable with its latest accounts revealing that the group made a profit of £58.4 million. The company also has £875 million in liquid assets.”
Darren Roe, managing director for Stagecoach East, said: “Stagecoach has reached agreements with Unite for thousands of employees covering the majority of our depots across the UK, and there is no reason why an agreement cannot be reached for our people in Cambridge, Fenstanton and Peterborough.
“We’re very proud of our team, who do a fantastic job in delivering vital transport connections for local people.
“We are fully committed to working constructively with Unite to deliver pay proposals that are fair to our people, and which also ensure the long-term sustainability of the bus network for local communities at a time when passenger numbers are significantly below pre-Covid levels.
“We have further talks planned with Unite next week and remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached with local union representatives to avoid strike action that will cause unnecessary disruption for our local communities and our own teams.
“We will keep our website updated with the latest information on our services and our planned timetables.”
The strike days are:
4am on January 4 to 4am January 9 (a five day stoppage)
4am on January 10 to 4am on January 11 (24 hours stoppage)
4am on January 12 to 4am on January 13 (24 hours stoppage)
4am on January 15 to 4am on January 16 (24 hours stoppage)
4am on January 17 to 4am on January 18 (24 hours stoppage)
4am on January 19 to 4am on January 20 (24 hours stoppage)