Talks between Go North East and Unite over driver pay break down once again

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A dispute between Go North East and Unite over bus driver’s pay remain ongoing after the latest talks break down.

Talks held on Monday, November 6, between Go North East and Unite over pay for bus drivers in the region have once again broken down.

The travel company had drafted in ACAS, a reconciliation service, to facilitate the talks between both parties with the aim of ending the ongoing strike.

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Go North East states that Unite had demanded pay rises every six months in return for calling off the 12-week strike before refusing to continue talks.

Ben Maxfield, Go North East business director, has claimed that Unite are “moving the goal posts” every time the company tries to come to a resolution.

He said: “Unite demanded six monthly pay increases: as well as rises backdated to July 2023, and another in July 2024, Unite are now insisting on an additional pay increase on 1 January 2024.

The latest talks between Go North East and Unite have broken down and the 12-week strike will continue. Photo: Go North East.The latest talks between Go North East and Unite have broken down and the 12-week strike will continue. Photo: Go North East.
The latest talks between Go North East and Unite have broken down and the 12-week strike will continue. Photo: Go North East. | Go North East

“All increases they say, must be higher than anything already on the table.

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“Passengers are facing unacceptable levels of hardship. But instead of a constructive dialogue all we get from the local Unite representatives is a set of moving goal posts, escalating demands, and a succession of U-turns.

“We persuaded ACAS to became involved in talks weeks ago and even they have struggled to keep Unite at the negotiating table. I think that says it all.

“This dispute, this strike, is entirely of Unite’s making. All we want is for the local union representatives to work constructively and collaboratively with us to secure a resolution.

“New demands for six-monthly pay rises will only add to mounting anger within the workforce, and from the public, over Unite’s handling of negotiations.

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“It is impossible to negotiate with a union hell bent on disruption rather than dialogue.”

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Unite has claimed that the dispute could be resolved if the company pledges to spend £238,000 on driver’s pay, which they say is just 0.28% of the annual profits of the Go Ahead group.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, believes the company “should be ashamed” at how it is handling the dispute over pay.

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She commented: “Go North East could end this dispute with the stroke of a pen with the equivalent of money they’d find down the back of a sofa.

“The parent company is awash with cash and yet they won’t stump up the funds it would cost them to end this dispute right now.

“Go North East should be ashamed of its own stubbornness and how it is treating our members and the communities that built its transport empire.”

Dave Telford, Unite regional officer, has vowed that the union will not back down over the pay dispute and has urged the company to come up with a solution.

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He added: “Our members’ resolve has not waivered, and we will not back down.

“Unite put various proposals on the table today for the employer to accept and every time Go North East just refused to budge.

“There is only one party currently wishing to negotiate and that’s Unite.

“I urge Go North East to put its hands in its pocket and come up with the money that it will cost them to end this dispute – pocket change for a company making £85million in profits.”

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The 12-week strike started on Saturday, October 28, and remains ongoing at the time of writing.

It means that there is no Go North East services running except for contracted school services.

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