Drivers travel from England to prop up Aberdeen bus firm during strike

First Bus and University  of Aberdeen lecturers striking together at the First Bus depot.
First Bus and University of Aberdeen lecturers striking together at the First Bus depot.

Bus drivers have been brought up from the north of England to support a city transport firm as the first day of drivers’ strikes began.

Trade union Unite is currently engaging in industrial action with First Bus over drivers’ contracts.

The first day of the action corresponded with the start of an overtime ban.

Services were running to a revised timetable yesterday in order to keep transport going during strike action, which will continue on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and then for a week from March 25 until March 31.

Fresh talks were held between union chiefs and management at the firm – but ended without agreement.

David Phillips, operations director for First Aberdeen, said: “I would like to thank all of our customers for their patience and understanding.

“We have managed to deliver a service to 60% of our network so far, on a reduced frequency timetable.

“To reduce inconvenience to customers while the strike action takes place, we have welcomed drivers from other First Bus businesses who have travelled from our sister companies across the UK to assist us in keeping the network operational. I would like to thank everyone for their efforts in keeping our buses running.

“We have also had Andrew Jarvis, our managing director, and other senior team members from the business behind the wheel driving and looking after our passengers.

“We held a further meeting yesterday afternoon with our union colleagues, which although useful, regrettably did not reach an agreement and end the industrial action.”

Mike Flinn, Unite branch convener, said: “Nothing came from the meeting, no real offer was put on the table as such, so the action will take place next week as planned. It’s costing them to get the half-hearted service out there. There’s more buses in the depot than there are out on the roads.

“The buses are running hourly, and two or three are coming together. We’ve had a great turnout and we’ve got great support from the public, it proves to the company that what they are doing is wrong, and that drivers will stand out in atrocious weather to prove their point.”

Meanwhile, striking lecturers at the University of Aberdeen also made their way to the First Bus depot on King Street yesterday to show their solidarity with the drivers.