DRIVERS from Stagecoach began their first day of industrial action in protest against their pay demands not being met today, Tuesday.

The strike began at 2am today, October 19, with some drivers joined the picket line from 4am.

Drivers who are part of the union Unite picketed all of the striking depots - Cwmbran, Blackwood and Brynmawr.

The strikes are taking place after Stagecoach refused a demand to pay drivers £10.50 an hour, instead offering £10.10 an hour but with reduced sick pay and removal of paid breaks.

Therefore, Unite have called for industrial action.

Around 50 people joined the protest outside the Cwmbran depot, despite the bad weather.

Some people ventured onto the nearby roundabout and and waved Unite flags as motorists sounded their horns in support.

Placards emblazoned with slogans such as "underpaid and undervalued - £10.50 now!" were staked around the protest site.

Nick Young, one of the drivers, said: "It's not right, we shouldn't have to be doing this.

"Don't forget we carry the most expensive commodity known to man - a human life.

"Would you put your child onto a school bus if you didn't think the driver was skilled?

"I want a skilled wage to do a skilled job.

"If we were asking for £14 or something like that then I wouldn't be standing here, all we want is £1 more than our current wage.

"We don't want to be doing this, but we need to."

His claims surrounding a skilled wage were echoed by non-drivers who had elected to lend their support to the drivers.

Jessica missed a hospital appointment because of the strike, but instead of being angry at the drivers, decided to support them.

She said: "It's not about small stories, it's about the bigger issue and this is a bigger issue.

"They're skilled drivers so they should be guaranteed a skilled wage.

"I think it's ridiculous that it's even come to this (the strike) over 40 pence.

"I understand people are massively affected by this, but things won't get done unless you stand up and fight for it.

"What else could they do?"

The drivers are adamant that they will continue to strike for as long as they need to.

Talks between Unite and Stagecoach will be taking place on Thursday and will be moderated by Acas.

If the talks are not productive, then the strikes will continue.


Mohammed Ismail, a Stagecoach driver for the past seven years, said: "I'm hoping for Mr Winter (managing director of Stagecoach in Wales) to actually do the decent thing, to call us for a meeting and have a pay talk before the Acas meeting.

"People pay week in, week out to travel - they depend on us.

"The right thing to do for them is to put the buses back on the road and pay the money what we need.

"This is not just us fighting for us, we're fighting for the people who want to work in the industry in the future.

"I worked six days, right the way through the pandemic from March 21 and got nothing for it, no thank you.

"We kept the company flowing, we made the profit for the shareholders to invest back into Stagecoach.

"All we are asking for is a pound to live on, we're not asking for it to go on holidays or buy luxury cars or anything like that. 

"This not a want, it is a need."

A Stagecoach South Wales spokesperson said: "Despite strike action by Unite the Union at Stagecoach bus depots at Blackwood, Brynmawr and Cwmbran, a number of our services are continuing to run. Megabus services are operating a near normal service and Service X24 Varteg Hill to Newport and Service 151 Newport to Blackwood are running up to every 30 minutes. Schools services across Torfaen, 801, 802, 803, 807, STA1, STA2, 820 are also operating to get learners to their place of education.  


"​It is extremely disappointing that Unite have chosen to continue with strike action as we remain committed to trying to resolve this pay dispute. To date, we have offered an average pay increase of 8.6% across our depots, ​plus 3% back pay. Despite this above inflation offer in pay which would see existing staff conditions protected and sick pay retained as agreed at other Stagecoach South Wales bus depots, Unite are now demanding ​a no strings 10.5% increase in pay backdated to April.


"Whilst we are committed to ​giving our staff a good pay rise, which is rightly deserved, this must be sustainable for our business to ensure the long-term viability of services, ​bus depots and jobs. The demands being made by Unite ​continues to ​be the cause ​of disruption to our customers,  employees, and the local communities that we serve. There is a further meeting planned with Unite and ACAS the mediation service on Thursday (21 October) where we hope that there will be constructive talks to​wards a settlement. 


"We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience caused by this unnecessary action by Unite and want to reassure customers that we ​are doing everything possible to try ​settle this dispute. We urge Unite to stop moving the goal posts and return to talks with a view to wanting to negotiate a deal and to put an end to this dispute for our staff and customers."