England

First Bus strike: Mediators asked to solve pay dispute

First bus
Image caption First employs 675 people in Devon and Cornwall

A mediation service has been requested to resolve a pay dispute involving First Bus Group in Devon and Cornwall.

Drivers, engineers and backroom staff walked out at 00:01 GMT for 24 hours on Thursday, as part of a dispute over pay. It ended at midnight.

First said it had requested to work with Acas to solve the situation.

The RMT union said First was "stalling" over a pay deal and it would consider "all options", including working with the mediators.

Managers from the bus company and the RMT union had disagreed over a pay offer which guaranteed staff a 2% pay increase from 2 December, followed by a 2.3% increase from April 2013.

But Phil Bialyk, from the RMT, said: "They've made us offers and this pay should be implemented from the 1 April.

"They want to implement it from 2 December so there is something like seven or eight months back payments that should be made to the staff and they're refusing to make those payments."

He described the strike as a success and said only "one or two" out of 675 employees went into work.

Mr Bialyk said: "I've spoken to the company and we're trying to set up a meeting next week.

"We're still considering reports and are considering all options available, including working with Acas."

'Ready to assist'

First said it was disappointed by the strike but said it managed to provide more services in Cornwall and Plymouth compared to a strike in October when only 10% of services were in operation.

Robbie Lamerton from First said: "We're in an industry where we're losing income streams and therefore we have to make efficiency savings.

"They didn't want those efficiency savings so we've given them what they wanted but they want the back-pay as well, which we just can't afford."

First said it hoped the option to bring in Acas would being about a "conclusion" to the situation quickly.

In a statement Acas said: "We have contacted both parties involved in the dispute and we stand ready to assist if needed."

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