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Buses on Arran could be disrupted this autumn if Stagecoach workers in Brodick vote for industrial action over a pay dispute.
The ballot covers major bus depots across Scotland, also including Angus, Ardrossan Ayr, Cumbernauld, Dumfries, Dundee, Fife, Inverness, Highlands and Islands, Kilmarnock, and Perth.
Stagecoach routes run across the islands, and into all major cities and towns from Orkney to the Borders.
If the ballot for industrial action is successful then major bus routes, remote local communities and events are expected to be ‘severely disrupted’.
The workers involved in the dispute are drivers, engineering staff, administrative workers, and cleaners.
Any industrial action, it is anticipated, will also involve disruption to the COP26 climate change conference being held in Glasgow between 31 October – 12 November 2021.
The ballots across the various Stagecoach Group companies opened this week.
If members vote for industrial action, then strikes, and action-short-of strike, as is the case on Arran, could begin by late October and into late January.
The Stagecoach Group, which operates in practise through various local bus companies, is offering below inflation pay to workers across Scotland.
The Stagecoach Group has blamed the pay offers on the Covid pandemic, despite the company being ‘extremely profitable’.
Dougie Maguire, Unite regional coordinator, said: ‘Stagecoach’s stance has been nothing short of shocking, and it has infuriated the workforce who have continued to work diligently throughout the Covid pandemic.
‘The Stagecoach Group is extremely profitable.
‘It also directly benefits from millions of pounds of public funds every year through various Scottish Government schemes, not to mention benefiting from the UK government’s furlough scheme for the last 18 months.’
A spokeswoman for Stagecoach in Scotland said: ‘Local people who depend on buses to get to work and access public services, as well as local businesses struggling to recover from the pandemic, will be extremely angry at the threat of completely unnecessary disruption to their bus services.
‘The comments by the union at national level do not reflect the continuing positive discussions that we are having with local Unite representatives as we jointly work towards agreeing pay deals.
‘The threat of strike action is even more puzzling as we have already agreed a pay package with Unite covering members in several other parts of Scotland and they remain happy with the deal.
‘In addition, union representatives have recommended their members accept the package that we have offered in the west of Scotland.’