A comprehensive service continues to operate across Go North West’s network in spite of strike action by some Unite drivers as the company pulls out all the stops to ensure key workers can make essential journeys in Manchester during the pandemic.
Passengers may be picked up by different coloured buses but can otherwise expect journeys as usual this week as Go North West brings in experienced operators from across the region to run COVID-secure services. Frequencies on all Go North West’s 16 routes are expected to be at, or near, advertised levels. Customers are advised to check service updates before they travel for up-to-date information.
Go North West’s network serves three major hospitals – Manchester Royal Infirmary, North Manchester General Hospital and Salford Royal Hospital, plus the Etihad Stadium, where well over 1,000 people are being invited to receive COVID-19 vaccinations daily.
Buses also serve schools which are open for key workers’ children, major employment sites at Stakehill Industrial Estate, Salford Quays and MediaCity UK plus countless GP surgeries and essential retail locations.
Contingency measures have been taken by Go North West in the face of industrial action by Unite. The dispute concerns proposals to modernise working practices at the Queens Road depot which 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.
Under a program called RESET, Go North West drivers are being offered £5,000 payments, plus two years of inflation-linked pay rises and guarantees of no redundancies in return for amendments to their terms. More than 80% of drivers have volunteered to sign up for these changes. Nevertheless, Unite has called its members out on strike.
Go North West managing director Nigel Featham said: “People travelling on our buses during the pandemic are making essential journeys – including NHS workers, teachers and retail workers. We cannot let this dispute disrupt those journeys and make life even more difficult at what is already a very challenging time.
“My message to passengers is that you can rely on a bus arriving this week to take you to where you need to be. It may be a different colour but it will get you to work, to hospital, to school or wherever else you need to go.
“We believe this strike action by Unite is unnecessary, ineffectual and will solve nothing. We urge the union to work with us to reach a solution based on discussion rather than strike action. I have a great deal of sympathy for our drivers as I believe the vast majority would much rather be working than on strike.”
All temporary operators are experienced transport businesses which have carried out full COVID-19 risk assessments and are fully compliant. The usual protocols, including social distancing and wearing of facemasks, apply.