Stagecoach bus workers across Tayside and Fife are threatening to take strike action as a row with the company over pay continues.
Unite says that about 550 members employed on the Fife, Perth and Strathtay networks have voted in favour of industrial action through a postal ballot.
Just under 94% of workers voted for a strike from a turnout of 74.4%.
The results of the ballot were made public by the union on Wednesday – just hours after Stagecoach East Scotland had issued a statement saying it had upped a previous pay offer.
The company says it is willing to give workers a 2.4% rise backdated to May, along with a further annual review next year, and claims Unite’s ballot results do not tell the full story.
A Stagecoach East Scotland spokesperson said: “The ballot result information the union has chosen to make public today relates to previous pay offers.
“The position has moved on. Fresh proposals have been put to our employees who have yet to vote on them.”
David Frenz, operations director, claims the firm is “leaving no stone unturned” in a bid to reach a settlement.
He said: “Buses are a lifeline for local people in Fife.
Bid to reach ‘sensible and sustainable agreement’
“We are committed to ensuring our people who keep our communities connected are properly rewarded, particularly after their contribution to the country over the past 18 months of the pandemic.
“We have worked tirelessly to protect the jobs of our people during the pandemic and done everything we reasonably can to hold constructive discussions with Unite to reach a sensible and sustainable pay agreement across our bus depots in Fife.
“That is why we have put a fresh pay offer to Unite which would give employees a 2.4% pay increase.”
Mr Frenz also said the continuing challenging financial environment, particularly with passenger levels significantly down on pre-Covid levels, also had to be considered.
However, while Unite acknowledges that the new offer represents a “step forward”, it says there is still “some distance to go” to meet the pay demands of its members.
Unite is demanding that Stagecoach meets its “fair” pay claim of the Retail Price Index inflation figure (3.8% – July) plus 1%.
The workers involved in the dispute are drivers, engineering staff, administrative workers and cleaners.
Any industrial action, it is anticipated, would involve disruption to the COP26 climate change conference being held in Glasgow between October 31 and November 12.
Bus firm ‘needs to show some perspective;
Dougie Maguire, Unite regional coordinator, said: “Stagecoach East workers across Fife, Perth and Strathtay have overwhelmingly backed taking strike action.
“There needs to be some perspective in this dispute because while Stagecoach East has made a new offer, which is a step forward, there is still some distance to go.
“It falls far short of our members’ reasonable and fair pay aspirations because we are dealing with an extremely profitable company.”
“Unite’s members have been left with no option but to consider walking because the company hasn’t done enough talking.
“If Stagecoach decide they want to talk then Unite is willing and waiting, but only if they turn up with a fair offer.”
The news comes after some ScotRail staff confirmed their intention to strike during COP26 in a row with the operator over pay.