Talks could avert planned bus strike

LORNA MARSH Hundreds of bus drivers are to strike on Monday - the second one-day action over pay this year that will bring Norwich services to a standstill.But First Eastern Counties bosses and union chiefs are hopeful that ongoing talks could bring a last minute reprieve to difficulties experienced by commuters during the last strike on Friday April 20.

LORNA MARSH

Hundreds of bus drivers are to strike on Monday - the second one-day action over pay this year that will bring Norwich services to a standstill.

But First Eastern Counties bosses and union chiefs are hopeful that ongoing talks could bring a last minute reprieve to difficulties experienced by commuters during the last strike on Friday April 20.

The Transport and General Workers' Union (T&G) which represents First's Norwich drivers has called a series of one day actions.

The union has previously suspended two planned strike days but said a repeat of April's strike would see 250 drivers walk out unless a settlement could be reached.

If the strike goes ahead all First services based from the city will be affected with the exception of the contract Park and Ride scheme.

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A joint statement from First and the T&G said: “Discussions between the company management and the union, representing these drivers, continue and both sides are keen to find a mutually acceptable solution.

“A further meeting is scheduled for today (Friday May 11) and should the discussions prove fruitful there is a strong possibility that this action will be withdrawn.”

Peter Iddon, managing director of First Eastern Counties, said: “We have resolved a number of issues and are optimistic that together we can find an agreement that will be acceptable both to our drivers and will allow us to grow the business and provide the quality of service that our customers deserve.

“This has to be a solution for the longer term to ensure we can develop the company in cooperation with all our staff.”

Scott Higgins of the T&G said: “These are constructive discussions and we are reviewing matters that we feel are vital to the future, the job security and incomes of our members.

“We are approaching proposals from management with a positive attitude and hope that we can resolve all issues without industrial action.”