Outdated working practices risk closure of business, company claims

Company has offered drivers an upfront payment of £5,000 to accept new terms

Bus drivers at Manchester-based Go North West have announced they will commence an all-out continuous strike from February 28.

The Unite trade union says staff are walking out “as a result of the decision of Go North West (part of the Go-Ahead Group) to fire and rehire its workers on vastly inferior contracts”.

The union represents over 400 drivers at the company’s Queens Road depot Cheetham Hill.

“If Go-Ahead were allowed to implement its fire and rehire policies it would result in our members, who have been in the frontline since the pandemic began, having to work longer for far less money,” claimed Ritchie James, Unite regional secretary.

Go North West described the decision to strike as “disappointing” and claimed the company had ongoing losses of £1.8m a year, a recurring deficit “directly caused by outdated working practices”.

“Over the last 11 months we have been attempting to agree a package of operational improvements to keep the depot open, which Unite is opposing,” said the company in a statement.

It says its offer ensures there will be no cuts to drivers’ pay or working hours, includes a ‘no redundancies’ undertaking, and guaranteed ‘inflation-proof’ pay increases in April 2021 and April 2022.

The company continued: “In addition, each of our drivers would receive an upfront payment of £5,000 in anticipation of the future savings improved productivity could deliver.

“Go North West bus drivers are already among the best paid on the region.”

It added the alternative to finding a solution would be to close the depot with the loss of 600 jobs.

The company also claimed that after taking the decision to offer to drivers the opportunity to accept the productivity package individually, 393 out of 474 drivers (83%) volunteered to accept the new terms.

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