More than 3,300 National Express West Midlands staff to strike over pay

A National Express bus near Colmore Row in Birmingham Credit: National Express West Midlands

More than 3,000 National Express West Midlands bus drivers have voted overwhelmingly to strike over pay, Unite union has announced today.

The workers, who voted by 96% for industrial action, will begin all out continuous strike action on Thursday 16 March, which is expected to cause disruption across the West Midlands network.

The drivers will also be joined by more than 200 National Express engineers who voted for industrial action over pay in January - bringing the total number of striking workers to more than 3,300. 

National Express West Midlands said it is an "extremely disappointing result".

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “National Express is sitting on mountains of cash and can absolutely afford to give a pay rise to its staff that reflects rocketing living costs.

"It needs to do just that.

"Unite defends our members jobs, pay and conditions to the hilt and the National Express workforce has their union’s total and unflinching support during these strikes.” 

According to Unite, the strikes will severely impact National Express West Midlands’ services, which cover 93% of the region’s bus network, including in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Walsall, Dudley and West Bromwich.  

Sulinder Singh Unite regional officer, said: National Express’ greed is the reason why the entire West Midland’s bus network will be shut down and it bears the responsibility for the disruption that will be caused.

"Our members do not want to strike but National Express has left them with no choice. The company needs to put forward an offer that our members can accept – it can clearly afford to.” 

National Express West Midlands says it is continuing to talk to Unite to seek to avoid strikes.

A spokesman for the company said: "This is an extremely disappointing result.

"Since the ballot, we have offered the union a pay deal for drivers worth 13.4% made up of 11.1% for 2023 and a retention payment worth 2.3%.

"This is on top of 6% our drivers received in November.

"This will see the majority of drivers earn over £30,000. The union has turned it down without even giving our drivers a chance to vote on it.

"How many people reading this can say they’ve been offered a 19% pay rise in a year? 

“Only 60% of drivers voted in favour of industrial action on an out-of-date offer of 8.1% and yet multi-million pound union Unite would see their members out of pocket and the lives of the people of the West Midlands disrupted to score political points.

"The union is using our hard-working drivers as bargaining chips, playing with people’s lives without giving drivers a vote on it.

“We sincerely apologise to our customers for the significant disruption that Unite will cause and we are continuing to talk to them to seek to avoid strikes.

"We anticipate a very limited service running on strike days and customers can keep updated via our website

"We urge our drivers to stand up to the union, reconsider industrial action and keep the West Midlands moving.”