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Stagecoach pay offer aims to halt industrial action

Stagecoach has submitted a fresh pay offer in a bid to prevent industrial action by workers in Orkney and across the Highlands.

Confirming its offer, this Thursday morning, Stagecoach Highlands said it hoped to break the deadlock and reach an agreement with trade union Unite.

New deals will be put to Unite in talks next week covering employees in Kirkwall, Inverness, Tain, Portree, Thurso, and Aviemore.

This follows warnings from Unite that bus transport in these areas could be “brought to a halt” this autumns, as its members ballot on whether to take industrial action short of a strike.

In a release from Stagecoach, this morning, Stagecoach Highlands’ managing director, David Beaton, said: “Buses are a lifeline for local people across the Highlands and Islands. 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.

“We are leaving no stone unturned in a bid to reach a settlement. That is why we are putting a fresh pay offer to Unite in talks scheduled to take place next week.”

According to Stagecoach, bus services are facing a continuing challenging financial environment with passenger levels significantly down on pre-COVID levels. Passenger fares are significantly short of what is needed to cover the day-to-day costs of running services without Scottish Government support.

Mr Beaton added: “We would urge Unite to end the uncertainty for our people and the customers who rely on bus services.

“Strike action is completely unnecessary and would simply damage the lives and livelihoods of hard-working people, including our employees, as well as the region’s businesses.

“We would urge Unite to put communities first and talk, not walk.”