Sunderland bus strike: Passengers to face major disruption as Stagecoach drivers walk out

GMB union members working at Stagecoach North East will walk out for five days in a row. Credit: PA

Bus passengers in Sunderland face major disruption as almost 200 drivers go on strike.

GMB Union members working at Stagecoach North East will walk out for five days in a row in a dispute over pay.

The strike begins at at 00:01am on Tuesday 11 October and will run until midnight on Saturday 15 October. 

It follows a breakdown in discussions between the union and the operator on Friday 7 October.

Bosses at Stagecoach say they have made a number of offers to the GMB union, which they say are in line with those agreed at other depots in the region.

Steve Walker, managing director of Stagecoach North East, said: “We have reached agreement with other trade unions at our other North East depots, which cover the vast majority of our staff.

"The proposals we have put forward for Sunderland are similar and represent a good pay deal for our employees that would make them amongst the highest paid of any bus drivers in the region. 

“Instead, GMB keep moving the goalposts over what they are looking for and seem determined now to press ahead with this unnecessary strike action." 

GMB Union members are staging a five-day walk out. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees.

GMB however, says it rejected the company's latest offer as it amounts to a "big real terms pay cut."

In a statement on Friday 7 October, Stuart Gilhespy, GMB organiser, said: “We met with Stagecoach today in the hope of finding some compromise, but they refused to put any more money on the table. 

“As a result, the people of Sunderland will be desperately inconvenienced. Stagecoach has plenty of money but are refusing to invest in the workers – or in Sunderland’s bus fleet which is in a shocking state. 

“It’s time they got their priorities straight before Sunderland grinds to a halt.” 

Stagecoach says it will do everything it can to limit the disruption for commuters and will run as many routes as possible.

The operator added that it invites GMB to return to the table to further discuss a way to resolve the issue.

Mr Walker added: “It is in everybody’s interests to have a thriving bus sector that supports jobs, good pay for bus workers, grows the economy and meets the country’s net zero objectives, and to achieve that we need people to switch to the bus.

"Strikes don’t help this objective – we would urge GMB to talk not walk.”  

Passengers have been advised that during the walk-out all pre-paid customer tickets will also be accepted for travel on Tyne and Wear Metro within the affected areas.

The reduced timetable running during the industrial action is available on the Stagecoach website.

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