Go-Ahead respond to bus strike claims

A Dorset bus company has disputed claims concerning working conditions for Salisbury drivers as possible strikes loom.

Andrew Wickham, Go-Ahead Managing Director for Wiltshire and Dorset, has claimed changes they’ve made relating to shifts will have no effect on the safety of their bus operation in Salisbury, and are aimed at improving viability and the sustainability of bus services in the region.

Mr Wickham said: “We believe that our Salisbury drivers pay will still be higher than other bus and coach operators in the Wiltshire area, even after a slight overtime reduction.”

Go-Ahead’s response comes after transport union RMT announced they would be balloting members from across Wiltshire and Dorset concerning possible strike action after what they described as “an all out attack by the company on working conditions.”

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport workers claimed that recent enforced changes to shifts, sign-on and sign-off times, and the imposition of unpaid meal breaks will leave bus drivers working longer and harder hours for less in return.

Mr Wickham claims they are working hard to preserve jobs in a difficult economic climate: “With government and local authority cuts there are increasingly fewer routes that rely on subsidies. Whilst Salisbury is a challenging depot to run profitably we value the hard work and professionalism of our drivers,” he said.

Despite remaining available for talks to resolve the dispute, RMT will continue to ballot members until 7th February when possible strike action may be considered.

Mr Wickham said: “We will continue to negotiate with the RMT in hope that a common sense solution can be found.”

Main image: Oxyman, Wiki Commons

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