Express & Star

Passengers told 'not to travel unless absolutely necessary' as West Midlands bus strike enters second day

Bus drivers across the West Midlands are swapping their driving seats for picket lines for the second day running today.

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Unite the Union members outside Perry Barr National Express garage

National Express West Midlands has been forced to cancel the vast majority of services leaving just 14 routes, which service major hospitals.

Hundreds of thousands of bus passengers are being forced to change their travel plans, many deciding to work from home or using the trains, which will now have less strike days due to the RMT accepting a pay offer after months of walk outs.

Unite the Union members were picketing bus garages across Birmingham and the Black Country this morning after rejecting a 14.3 per cent pay offer last week.

In Perry Barr, at National Express brand new garage, the union set up stall outside the two entrances to the premises.

Drivers were instructed not to speak to the media by the union, however, several wanted to stress the industrial action "was not about the money, its about the terms and conditions and how we get treated".

A unite member confirmed there were picket lines "in Walsall, West Bromwich, Dudley and Wolverhampton, where there is a garage or depot we have members outside".

Lorry drivers, refuse collection wagons, white vans and several taxis beeped their horns in support of the strikers whilst the Express & Star were outside the garage.

One bus driver joked how popular they were with taxi drivers, who saw demand rocket yesterday with Uber's prices "surging" yesterday afternoon.

Parents were counting the cost of getting their children to school yesterday and today.

Natasha Gayle said: "We've already paid for a term pass but had to pay for an Uber three times already for our daughter to get to school, and the strike is only in its second day, I won't be able to afford this.

"Not everyone drives and not every child attends a school within walking distance, I don't know much about the strike but National Express needs to pay the drivers to get them back to work."

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “National Express is an extremely wealthy company and makes considerable profits from the hard work of our members, who are not paid enough for the difficult and stressful job they do. The company must come back with an offer our members can accept.

“Unite’s top priority is defending and improving our members’ jobs, pay and conditions and National Express’ workforce have their union’s full support during these strikes.”

Services running today are 4 (Birmingham - Solihull), 5 (West Bromwich - Sutton Coldfield), 6 (Birmingham - Solihull), 6 (Dudley - Stourbridge), 28 (Heartlands Hospital - Great Barr) 51(Birmingham - Walsall), 87 (Birmingham - Oldbury), 97 (Birmingham - Chelmsley Wood), 529 (Wolverhampton - Walsall), X4 (Birmingham - Falcon Lodge), X21 (Birmingham - Weoley Castle).

National Express West Midlands told passengers not to travel "unless absolutely necessary" for more information