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Bus strikes avoided as Stagecoach reaches pay deal with Kent bus drivers

Bus drivers will not be striking this month as a pay deal has been agreed with Stagecoach.

Transport services in parts of Kent were expected to grind to a halt as drivers based at two depots prepared to strike, calling for a "fair" increase in pay.

Bus drivers will not be striking this month. Stock picture
Bus drivers will not be striking this month. Stock picture

More than 250 members of union Unite – whose salaries vary between £11.10 and £11.67 per hour – from the Herne Bay and Folkestone depots had planned to stage walkouts across seven days beginning this Friday.

Services across Canterbury, Whitstable, Herne Bay, Faversham, Sittingbourne, Folkestone, Dover, Ashford and New Romney were expected to be affected by the action.

Stagecoach services have already been stretched lately due to a shortage of drivers which has forced the firm to cancel scores of buses every day, leaving some passengers stranded.

But the firm has this morning revealed that strike action – and the ensuing chaos to passengers – has been avoided as it has agreed a pay deal with union representatives.

The pay offer, which was recommended by the union, has now been agreed by employees.

'Low pay is the scourge of the bus industry right across this country.'

Joel Mitchell, managing director for Stagecoach South East, said: “We’re very proud of our team, who do a fantastic job in delivering vital transport connections for local people.

"We are pleased to have reached an agreement with our Unite local representatives that provides a fair deal for our employees in Kent and helps to secure the long-term sustainability of the local bus network.

“We remain focused on delivering the best service possible to our customers at a time when there are challenges facing bus networks across the country as a result of the pandemic and other factors outside our control.”

A spokesman for Unite previously said Stagecoach had failed “to make a realistic pay offer” to drivers, after demanding the company gives its staff an increase in wages for 2021.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Low pay is the scourge of the bus industry right across this country.

“Stagecoach made profits touching £60m last year and has £875m in the bank. Yet it cannot make a decent offer to its staff."

Unite has been approached for a comment.

Read more: All the latest news from Herne Bay

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