Strike action involving Stagecoach bus workers across Tayside and Fife has taken a step closer after staff rejected an updated pay offer from the company.
The Unite union is in dispute with the firm about a wage rise for workers on the Fife, Perth and Strathtay networks.
On Wednesday it was confirmed staff had voted in favour of strike action.
Stagecoach East Scotland upped its pay offer on the same day – but Unite says staff have now rejected that offer, which would have seen a rise of 2.4% backdated to May.
Staff, including drivers, engineering staff, administrative workers and cleaners, have previously said they plan to strike around the end of October – though no firm plans have yet been laid out.
A strike around that time could coincide with the COP26 climate change conference being held in Glasgow, when ScotRail services may also face disruption as a result of a strike.
Stagecoach urged to ‘think again’ on pay offer
Dougie Maguire, Unite regional co-ordinator, said: “The Stagecoach East workers across Fife, Perth and Strathtay have emphatically rejected the latest pay offer while also strongly backing strike action this week.
“Unite’s members democratically make up their own minds whether any offer from the company is good enough, and they have clearly told Stagecoach to go back and think again.
“The company has tried and failed to suggest that our mandate for strike action was solely related to a previous pay offer. It was not as these rejections demonstrate.
“We hope the public understand, despite confusing statements from the company, that Stagecoach East has been well behind the curve here, and they have some distance to go in order to meet the fair pay demands of our members.
“We are dealing with an extremely profitable company. We want to emphasise that our ambition has been to resolve this dispute amicably, and without our members having to take strike action.
“Yet, our members have had no option but to consider walking because the company hasn’t done enough talking.
“The company know what our members are asking for, and it’s now up to them.”
Bus firm ‘disappointed’ with latest pay vote
A Stagecoach East Scotland spokesperson said: “We are disappointed at the result of the most recent vote on our proposals.
“Our priority is to agree an offer that is fair to our people, and which also ensures the long-term sustainability of the bus network for local communities.
“We want to work together with the union on a deal which will achieve both of these objectives at a time when passenger numbers using the country’s bus networks are significantly below the level needed to cover the costs of running services.
“We are committed to seeking an agreement and remain open to continuing discussions with the union.”