26 February 2021
Go North West will deploy contingency plans from Sunday to keep bus services running in Manchester in the face of a strike by Unite over the modernisation of working practices needed to safeguard 600 jobs.
Mindful that buses are predominantly used during the COVID-19 pandemic by essential workers carrying out critical jobs, Go North West has made arrangements to keep as much of its network as possible running during a strike due to begin this weekend – passengers are urged to check service information before they travel.
Proposals to modernise working practices at the Queens Road depot have been put forward by Go North West in order to secure the future of 600 jobs by stemming the company’s annual losses of £1.8 million.
Drivers will get a £5,000 payment, plus two years’ of inflation-linked pay rises and guarantees of no redundancies. Although 80% of drivers voluntarily signed up to the package, Unite continues to oppose the changes needed to save the business.
Go North West managing director Nigel Featham said: “Unite’s strike is completely unnecessary and will make life harder for key workers in the middle of a pandemic. We have stepped up and made contingency plans to lay on buses so that NHS workers can get to hospitals, teachers can get to schools and retail workers can get to essential shops. We are determined the travelling public don’t lose out.
“Changes to working practices proposed by Go North West will bring the company in line with terms standard across the industry and which Unite has already agreed at other bus companies. Unite has described Queens Road bus drivers as having ‘crown jewel’ conditions but unless these are modified to reflect the modern world, the business will continue to make heavy losses putting 600 jobs in serious doubt.
“I would like to apologise to our customers for any inconvenience they may be caused, and urge Unite to end this game of brinkmanship by halting the stoppage for the benefit of our community.”
Many of the working practices inherited at Queens Road when Go North West took over the depot have been in use since the 1980s, including customs long since dropped by other bus companies.
Go North West drivers are still paid to rewind manual destination blinds on vehicles (buses have had digital displays since the end of the last century), are allocated unnecessary ‘spare’ shifts with no work content and are allowed to curtail journeys (if necessary, asking passengers to leave the bus mid-destination) if they are late finishing a shift.
For press and media enquiries, please contact
Matt Harrison, Marketing and Communications Manager, Go North West