STAGECOACH in Wales has criticised Unite Wales for "fuelling fantasy pay demands" - while the union has responded by criticising the bus company for "attacking sick pay."

Stagecoach has claimed Unite is frustrating negotiations for pay increases for bus drivers at the Blackwood, Brynmawr, and Cwmbran Stagecoach depots.

Unite have not agreed to deals that Stagecoach say go as high as a 10.5 per cent increase in pay for the drivers. 

Drivers and engineers in Merthyr Tydfil, drivers in Caerphilly and engineers in Cwmbran and Blackwood have recently had a pay increase of between five and six per cent.

Stagecoach bosses say that Unite's refusal to agree to the pay rise is putting transport links at risk.

Unite have asked that the drivers be paid £10.50 an hour, which would bring their pay in line with local competitors.

Nigel Winter, managing director of Stagecoach in Wales, said: "Local people who depend on buses to get to work, access public services, attend their place of education 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.

"Bus services in Wales are facing a continuing challenging financial environment with passenger levels significantly down on pre-Covid levels. 

"Bus passenger fares are significantly short of what is needed just to even cover the day-to-day costs of running services without government support.

"Despite this, we have worked tirelessly to protect the jobs of our people. We have also done all we reasonably can to hold constructive discussions with Unite and reach a sensible and sustainable pay agreement across our bus depots in Wales.

"The fact that we have proposed and reached agreement at several depots is a sign of our good faith.

"However, Unite has shown no interest in reaching similar agreements covering bus drivers at our Blackwood, Brynmawr, and Cwmbran depots and instead insists on fuelling fantasy pay demands as part of a wider political agenda.

"Our employees absolutely deserve a pay rise for all their hard work throughout the pandemic, but the union needs a reality-check on what is affordable."

Unite have rejected Mr Winter's version of events and say that the proposed pay increase comes with some important and potentially harmful caveats.

According to Unite, the proposed pay package would grant the requested £10.50 an hour, but would mean workers would have to give up "a large proportion" of sick pay and all paid breaks.

Alan McCarthy, regional officer at Unite, said: "Attacking sick pay while the pandemic is still ongoing is very irresponsible of any employer.

"Members unanimously rejected that offer and I'm not surprised.

"We're asking for parity with the local competitor, keeping in mind that Mr. Winter had said that they were having difficulties in retaining and attracting staff. 

"Because of the extremely low rate of pay within stagecoach they were losing staff to Newport Transport."

Mr Winter said:"We have offered our drivers above-inflation pay increases which are up to three times the three per cent received by nurses in Wales.

"Hard-working local people will find it astonishing that the union has rejected that offer."

"Any talk of industrial action by the union is irresponsible and counterproductive when the focus should be on protecting the jobs of our people and the long-term sustainability of bus services for the local community.

"We are committed to offering good packages for our people. We very much remain open to continuing discussions with the union and would urge them to return to talks."


Again, Unite have strongly disputed that they have left the talks at any point.

Mr McCarthy said: "This is simply ridiculous, we've offered to sit down with Acas as a form of mediation on two separate occasions since the winter.

"We're more than willing to sit with him on that, but Mr Winter is yet to do that - no contact has been made with Acas.

"I think for anybody to turn around and say that bus drivers asking for £10.50 is somehow irresponsible needs a bit of a reality check."