Talks underway to avert bus driver strike action between First Eastern Counties and Unite
- Credit: Edward Starr Photographer
Talks will be held on Friday to avert potential strike action as bus drivers for First Eastern Counties have rejected a pay offer from the company.
Negotiations are underway between First Eastern Counties and union Unite over the pay deal for the 2017/18 financial year.
Members of Unite have told this newspaper an offer was roundly rejected at a recent ballot, with 91pc of members voting for strike action.
One local member, who does not want to be named, said: 'The view from the workplace is that this dispute has now got political with the union and its activists being deliberately targeted - prior to another meeting with the management - in order to derail and disrupt any chance of strike action.'
They added First Eastern Counties were being 'aggressive and confrontational' in the dispute.
First Eastern Counties said they believe they have given Unite members 'a fair offer', and further talks have been arranged for Friday of this week.
It is not the first time negotiations between Unite and First have not gone smoothly.
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Over 1,000 bus workers employed by First Bus in Leeds took part in a one day strike in June 2016 after calling the pay offer 'pitiful'.
Chris Speed, head of operations for First Eastern Counties said: 'We are in discussions with Unite regarding a 2017/18 pay deal for our driving staff.
'The offer on the table would give drivers an increase of just under 5pc, spread over two years, which we believe is a fair offer based on the present economic environment.
'A ballot for the pay offer has taken place and further discussions are scheduled for Friday this week. I can confirm that there will be no impact on our services whilst discussions take place.'
He added accusations members of the trade union had been dismissed for their involvement in the pay award are 'categorically untrue', saying: 'No member of staff has been dismissed for their involvement in the recent pay talks'.
Unite failed to provide a comment after requests by this newspaper.