MORE THAN 1000 bus drivers in Glasgow will vote to strike over a "poverty pay" row, it has been confirmed. 

A total of 1300 First Glasgow employees have been invited to take industrial action after an "unacceptable" pay rise offer from the employer. 

The workers had been anticipating a rise last year, however, negotiations stalled due to Covid-19. It was expected that the rise would be rescheduled for April this year. 

The workers will be invited to ballot for industrial action on November 1. 

Wendy Dunsmore, Unite industrial officer, said: "The reality is that our members will now have worked with no pay rise for nearly two years, which is unacceptable. They have gone the extra mile and they deserve better.”

The trade union has warned that due to low pay and shift work driver shortages are now becoming "endemic" throughout the industry. 

Glasgow Times:

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Ms Dunsmore added: "There is a growing shortage of bus drivers across Scotland which is becoming endemic in certain areas of the nation.

"We are increasingly concerned that drivers have secured better jobs elsewhere resulting in bus services being slashed across Glasgow, and it is expected that further cuts to services are imminent. 

"It’s an outrage that the citizens of Glasgow who rely on these services are being badly affected because of First Glasgow’s desire to pay shareholders dividends, rather than to recruit and retain good and experienced drivers.”  

In one depot, the firm offered its workers a three-year pay deal which would have seen an increase of 44 pence per hour. 

The Glasgow Times understands that under the terms and conditions of the offer, employees would be expected to give up training time and dilute sick sick pay to finance the rise. 

Mick Dowds, Unite Convenor at First Bus Glasgow, added: “Drivers have had enough.

"They are working long hours, weekends and late evenings for £10 per hour which is poverty pay by anyone’s standards. First Glasgow need to stop the flood of drivers leaving their company, and they need to start retaining and attracting new drivers.

"The only way which this can be done is through decent pay, and decent terms and conditions. Without this, First Glasgow will not be able to provide the service that Glasgow deserves.”

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Elsewhere, binmen, school staff and rail workers in Glasgow have vowed to down their tools in pay rise feuds during COP26.

Around 100 world leaders and 25,000 delegates are expected to descend onto the city on November 1 for crunch talks about the global environment. 

Paul Clark, head of operations for First Glasgow, said: “First Glasgow, like most transport businesses in the UK, we’re experiencing driver shortages, as a result of several factors.

"These include fewer European drivers being available, Covid absences including self-isolation and DVLA delays in releasing provisional licenses to new candidates, as well as the knock-on effects of driver shortages in adjacent sectors, including HGV.

“In the meantime, we are doing everything we can to maintain a comprehensive network of services that supports our customers and our communities. The majority of routes are running normally although in some areas we are making temporary timetable adjustments to ensure a reliable service and minimise disruption.

“We are still in talks with our Unite the Union colleagues over pay and conditions as part of ongoing talks and we are making positive progress. We have now agreed on a new starter rate of £11/hour which will come into effect from this Sunday and more talks are scheduled for next week in regard to pay and progression for existing staff. We are hopeful of reaching an agreeable solution in the near future.

“Any potential ballot does not effect services during COP26 and we will continue to do all to support this global event as the eyes of the world turn to Glasgow from November 1.

“We also currently have an active national recruitment campaign underway, which is seeking to attract new entrants to the industry with flexible working patterns for drivers in Glasgow such as part-time working and in addition to full time four, five and six-day shifts.

“One thing that is clear, is that people are still keen to become bus drivers and serve their local communities, so we are working to make that process as easy as possible.”