LAST Saturday, Solidarity Trade Union hit out at those companies who are using the recession as an excuse to freeze pay.
One of the companies that we highlighted was First Group PLC – a massive transnational transport company. Despite the recession, First Group made £200m profit before tax in March of this year. Shareholders have also received a 15 per cent bonanza for each of the last five years.
But First Group workers have been offered a miserly 0 per cent pay increase. At the time, Solidarity President Adam Walker noted: “They are not even going to pay a cost of living increase. That’s absolutely outrageous”.
Solidarity has already called upon the company to make a better offer. If it didn’t we predicted that a national bus strike was just around the corner.
Some 24 hour strikes have already been held at various First Group depots around Britain. And it seems that they are having a positive effect as the company has indicated it is now willing to negotiate. They say they will not be giving workers a rise this year, but has now offered a 2.5% increase next year.
Solidarity still thinks that this is an inadequate offer. This imposed pay freeze is out of order. The workers should get an immediate pay increase for this year. This will then set the wheels in motion for negotiations over the 2010 pay rise.
Solidarity Executive member, David Kerr, said:
“Strike action has prompted First Group to make an offer of sorts. This is welcome, but it doesn’t go far enough. With no 2009 pay increase, how are workers supposed to support their families over Christmas?
Sadly, it appears that only further strike action will bring this massive transnational company to its senses. It’s unfortunate, but if that’s the way First Group want to play it, then that’s the way it’ll have to be.
Solidarity supports bus drivers strike completely”.