Seven days of industrial action loom in Bluestar bus pay dispute

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Bluestar industrial action
The work-to-rule action at Bluestar will run from from Wednesday 4th September until Tuesday 10th September

SEVEN days of industrial action have been called on Bluestar buses after members of the RMT union rejected a pay offer.

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Drivers, cleaners and ticket office staff will work to rule by refusing overtime and rest day shifts from Wednesday 4th September until Tuesday 10th September in Totton, Eastleigh and Poole.

They turned down the latest proposal from bosses at Bluestar, part of the Go South Coast group, in the pay dispute which previously led to two days of strikes in June.

Several Bluestar services link to Southampton from Lymington, the Waterside and Totton, and take in stops including Ashurst, Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst.

However, Bluestar said it did not anticipate the action would impact services for passengers. Morebus operations are not affected by the dispute.

Managing director Andrew Wickham said the pay offer was above inflation, but it was described as “paltry” by RMT general secretary Mick Cash.

Mr Cash said: “Bus drivers at Bluestar are typically expected to work excessive hours at an average of 50 per week including at least one fixed rota of 57 hours without enhanced payments being made, even though they are contracted for 40 hours only.‎

“The company need to come back with a realistic proposal to settle the dispute and until they do so our members are left with no choice but to take industrial action.”

He said: “The union remains available for talks.”

The action was called by the RMT’s national executive committee. Workers will refuse any overtime over their contracted 40 hours and not work on their rest days.

Bluestar managing director Andrew Wickham said he was “surprised” by the action and added:  “The only communication from the union has been notification of industrial action.

“We are available for talks and plan to meet shortly, with the intention of reaching a satisfactory resolution for all concerned.

“Whatever the outcome, we do not anticipate any disruption to our customers, and services will run normally.”

The planned Bluestar protest will follow a four-day walkout by RMT members on the South Western Railway network from Friday 30th August to Monday 2nd September. That dispute is over the future of train guards.

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