Oxford

Oxford bus drivers to strike over Christmas pay

A bus Image copyright Oxford Bus Company
Image caption The Unite union represents about 70% of Oxford Bus Company staff

Bus drivers in Oxfordshire will stage two days of strike action in a dispute over Christmas pay.

The walk-out is set to go ahead on Thursday and Monday after talks between Oxford Bus Company and the Unite union broke down.

Company managing director Phil Southall said a number of their offers had been rejected by the union.

But a Unite spokesman said the firm had "totally failed to enter into meaningful negotiations".

The bus operator said it paid drivers premium rates for three bank holidays over the Christmas and New Year period, but the union had asked for five.

In a statement Unite said the two bank holidays are legally recognised and there had been "'a complete breakdown of industrial relations".

Mr Southall said the union represented about 70% of its staff and he was "disappointed" it had decided to take strike action.

'Inconvenience passengers'

He said: "We've made a number of offers to Unite to settle the dispute but these have been rejected without consulting their members.

"We're very keen to resolve the dispute, and our door is open for talks."

He added that contingency timetables have been put in place and are on the company's website.

A Unite spokesman said the dispute was "entirely of the company's own making".

He said: "If this strike does inconvenience passengers the blame lies totally with the appalling manner in which the Oxford Bus Company has dealt with the dispute.

"The company have publicly claimed that they are keen to enter into meaningful negotiations, but at the same time they have ripped up the recognition agreement with Unite and victimised our reps."

School services 3B and 35A will operate as normal, and the company is hoping to keep running Brookes Bus routes.

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