Unite and GMB balloting members over industrial action on pay
A trade union representing bus drivers has warned that Translink services could face “a complete shutdown” over a pay dispute.
The GMB and Unite unions are due to run a ballot on possible industrial action by the majority of the company’s bus workforce from tomorrow until April 1.
The pay dispute affects drivers, cleaners and shunters, who are responsible for the parking and moving of buses.
The GMB union said that if the strike went ahead, “the entire bus network will grind to a halt”.
Unions had submitted a pay claim of 6% to help workers cope with they described as “rampant inflation” of 7.8%.
They accuse Translink of having “refused to budge” from an offer of 3% which workers are said to have rejected three times.
GMB organiser Peter Macklin said employees felt let down.
“GMB members feel aggrieved and disrespected,” he added.
“Translink don’t seem to appreciate what workers went through during the pandemic. They made sure other essential workers could travel to and from their workplaces to perform their vital roles.”
Mr Macklin added that members of the union had been proud to carry out their duty in delivering a service which potentially put the lives of themselves and their families at risk.
“Now, because they feel the company has failed to listen to their concerns, Translink faces the first ballot for pay-related industrial action in almost two decades,” he said.
“The dispute, which affects bus drivers, cleaners and shunters, will close the entire bus network within Northern Ireland. It will be a complete shutdown.”
Translink said: “Following extensive negotiations with our bus driver trade unions Unite and GMB, we have made a pay offer that we believe is fair and reasonable.
“We are currently awaiting the outcome of the trade unions’ ballot process and we remain focused on finding a suitable agreement that will not impact on passengers.’’
Translink chief executive Chris Conway warned in January that public transport services could face a 10% cut under Stormont’s draft budget.
He told an Assembly committee that this would amount to a “managed decline” of public transport, hitting rural areas the hardest.
It also emerged that Translink made a profit of more than £50m during the pandemic, largely due to the government putting more than £200m into the company.
Translink previously said this contrasted with 2019/20, where significant under-funding resulted in a loss before tax of £65.4m.
The company announced at the end of January that services were returning to normal following the pandemic.