More than 3,750 bus drivers across the West Midlands are to be balloted on a “final” pay deal worth two per cent a year for two years – and improved sickness terms for the lower paid.
Transport giant National Express has increased the original pay offer by 0.5 per cent whilst agreeing to extend the level and terms of sickness pay for standard rate employees.
The improvement in pay and conditions has led union officials to recommend the deal, and a ballot of drivers across the region will be held on February 10.
Unite regional official John Partridge said: “We have now had the final offer, which is two per cent backdated to October 2010 and two per cent from the beginning of October 2011.
“There are also some small improvements in sickness pay for standard rate drivers; the company has agreed to reduce the waiting period from five days to three days and from October 2011 the level of how long they get it for is going to go up from four weeks on full pay and four weeks half pay to six weeks full and six weeks half.”
Mr Partridge said two per cent was “about the level of settlement” in the current climate. “On the basis of that, we are recommending acceptance to members.”
A vote in favour would mark a truce over the pay negotiations after the union’s original claim of five per cent across the board was rejected out of hand by management.
Madi Pilgrim, HR director for National Express West Midlands, said: "We are currently involved in constructive discussions with our unions about the drivers' increased pay claim."
The transport company later revealed it was on course for a £9 million profits surge for 2010, pushing up earnings from £20 million in 2009.
The firm is being hit by reductions in the Bus Service Operators Grant, the fuel duty rebate, following last October’s Government spending review while it has also pledged to invest up to £25 million with 120 new buses.