Striking bus drivers in the West Midlands have voted to accept a 16.2% pay deal, bringing an end to days of industrial action and travel difficulties around the region.
More than 3,000 drivers at National Express were on strike beginning Monday 20 March in a dispute about pay, affecting around 93% of the bus network.
According to the Unite union, average pay for National Express West Midlands bus drivers fell by “six per cent in real terms” between 2018 and 2021, with the “gap increasing even further in 2022”.
National Express had made an offer of a 14.3% pay increase, alongside increases to Christmas Eve pay, New Year’s Day pay, and accident pay – this offer was rejected by the drivers in a ballot.
There were protests outside the bus depot on Ford Street, and a 45-year-old woman was arrested on Wednesday 22 March after buses were prevented from leaving the depot.
The firm then made the 16.2% offer, as well as formalising existing interim overtime rates and increasing pay around the Christmas holidays.
We are pleased to be able to put this behind us and focus on delivering a bus service that customers can rely on
– National Express
The strike officially ended on Sunday 26 March, and bus services resumed around the region the next day as close to normal as possible.
In a statement, National Express said: “We are pleased that the drivers have voted in favour of accepting the offer.
“We apologise to our customers and the communities we serve for the significant disruption and inconvenience this has caused over the last few weeks. We are pleased to be able to put this behind us and focus on delivering a bus service that customers can rely on.”
Sharon Graham, General Secretary of Unite, said: “This is an important win for Unite members. By standing together our members at National Express secured an above inflation pay offer.
“Unite will leave no stone unturned to defend workers’ pay. This is yet another example of how Unite’s relentless focus on improving jobs, pay and conditions results in real ‘money in the pockets’ of our members.”