Bus strike escalates
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Scottish crews reject NCOI offer
• The strike of bus crews throughout Central and Southern Scotland spread dramatically this week, despite the national offer of a -substantial increase in wages" for 98,000 company busmen. A rise of about 12 per cent for bus drivers and conductors was recommended for the adoption of all concerned in a statement issued by the National Council for the Omnibus Industry on Friday. The busmen are understood to have asked for a 17 per cent increase.
Under the new offer, made after the report of a special committee set up on February 19. drivers would receive an increase of 27s. 2d. per week and conductors an increase of 26s. 2d. per week in the basic weekly rates, payable from March 6. Of these increases, 10s. is in return for an assurance on the part of the employees that the revised schedules necessitated by the new drivers' hours regulations will be willingly accepted and operated, and to compensate for any loss of earnings.
Other recommended increases are 30s. per week in respect of semi-skilled and unskilled maintenance workers; an increase of 40s. per week for skilled maintenance workers; and an increase in the additional holiday payment from £2 18s. to £3 3s. 6d. (or /4 7s. in the case of employees entitled to three weeks' annual holiday). A delegate conference of busmen is due to meet today when TGWU officers will urge an acceptance of the offer.
The recommendation was immediately rejected by employees with the Scottish Bus Group. where 5000 staff on strike last week increased to 9600 by Monday, resulting in 3500 buses being withdrawn. Most of the busmen employed by Alexander (Fife), Alexander (Midland), Western SMT, Central SMT and Eastern Scottish are now out, and there are no immediate plans for reaching a settlement. Bus crews at Kirkcaldy have now been on strike for more than eight weeks.
One of the demands of the Scottish bus crews is equal wages for men and women, and they also want to negotiate direct with the SBG rather than through the NCOI, as at present. The busmen had asked for an increase of 14.