Express & Star

Bus driver strike action hanging in the balance as ballot opens on improved pay offer

Bus drivers who were due to start continuous strike action on Monday in a row over pay are now being balloted on an improved pay offer.

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A National Express bus in Colmore Row, Birmingham. Photo: Shaun Fellows / Shine Pix Ltd

People are being urged to check the National Express West Midlands website on Saturday afternoon to see if the strike is still going ahead next week.

The ballot is due to close at noon on Saturday and if drivers vote in favour of the offer, buses will be running as normal.

If they vote against, the walkout is expected to go ahead, with the bus operator's website set be updated as soon as the results are known.

A National Express West Midlands spokesperson said: “We are deeply sorry to our customers for the inconvenience of not yet being able to plan to travel on Monday.

“We sincerely hope drivers accept our excellent offer of 14.3 per cent pay increase bringing an experienced driver salary up to nearly £33k.

“We want to reassure our customers we are doing all we can to resolve this issue and will share the relevant information as swiftly as possible.”

On Friday evening, the bus operator said engineers had voted to accept the new offer of a 14.3 per cent base pay increase along with another 3.5 per cent rise next year.

A spokesperson for National Express West Midlands added that for year two (2024), should the consumer price index reach four per cent or above in December 2023, the company will reopen negotiations with unions.

On Thursday, Unite the Union claimed National Express refused to allow drivers to vote on its latest offer during meetings at their depots.

The industrial action was due to involve more than 3,000 bus drivers.

National Express’ operating profits, released recently, have more than doubled compared to the previous year.

The company reported revenue increased by 29 per cent to £2.8 billion.

Its underlying operating profits more than doubled to £197.3 million, fuelled by an increase in passenger demand across the group.

Despite this, the union said it had offered its workers in the West Midlands a "real terms pay cut".