Express & Star

'I'm glad it's over': Walsall Council leader slams 'greedy' striking bus drivers

The leader of Walsall Council has slammed the bus strikes in the West Midlands over the past week as "disgraceful" and expressed his relief that they are over.

Walsall Council leader Mike Bird

Mike Bird told the Express & Star that Unite the union had held local residents "to ransom" and that their "demands" were "greedy".

It comes after a week of continuous strike action which was resolved after the drivers accepted a pay offer with a 16.2 per cent increase.

Councillor Bird said: "I think holding the general public to ransom like that was disgraceful.

"I think they have been greedy in their demands and I think they didn't give a damn about people on lower wages like people working in supermarkets who couldn't get anywhere as a result.

"I'm glad it's over because people can get back to normal life, but it is disgraceful.

"I had no sympathy with the bus drivers at all. They say 'we're sorry' but they're not sorry at all. But they've caved in now.

"All this does is give the business a bad name and gives the bus drivers a bad name."

He went on to say: "It shows that a monopoly of that nature is not good for the economy of the West Midlands."

Other councillors have shown their support for the strikes, including Councillor Cat Eccles for Wollaston and Stourbridge Town.

Before the conclusion of the strikes, Councillor Eccles said: "Solidarity with the striking bus workers, I hope you get the offer you deserve."

She also spoke about the importance of public transport to the local area. The councillor said: "The last few days of bus strikes have shown how vital good public transport is for our towns.

"As well as people struggling to get to work or school, Stourbridge has been a ghost town with businesses noting a massive downturn in trade.

"This along with lack of parking in the town has really highlighted the problems we have getting people into the town and pushing for regeneration.

"There have been endless cuts to transport services and infrastructure as well as stagnating wages for the workers. We all deserve better."