Go North East (GNE) bus drivers have taken an unconventional approach to resolving their ongoing pay dispute. In a bold move, a delegation composed of two bus drivers and two union officials traveled to Toronto, Canada to meet with officials from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which has links to a company that controls Go Ahead, the parent company of GNE.
This international meeting marks an escalation in the efforts to end the strike that began on October 28, involving approximately 1,300 workers from GNE’s depots across the region. As talks between Unite the Union and the bus operator resumed this week, the visit to Canada signifies a commitment to finding a resolution.
Suzanne Reid, regional co-coordinating officer for Northumberland and Tyne and Wear, emphasized the significance of taking the dispute international. She stated that the meeting with Canadian officials was “well-received” and that it was time to apply pressure from abroad. “This is not a dispute in the North East, this is an international dispute,” Reid added.
While OPSEU does not own any shares in Go Ahead, it is connected to the OP Trust, which has controlling shares in Kinetic and Globalvia. Both of these companies are linked to Go Ahead. The visit to Canada has gained support from OPSEU’s president, who stated that they stand with GNE workers in their fight for fair wages.
As negotiations continue, Unite will “step up” their actions against Go North East if a deal is not reached. They argue that the company has the means to end the dispute by offering fair wages and better working conditions. Go North East maintains that their offer, which includes a 10.3% increase this year and an above-inflation rise next year, is unprecedented and would make their drivers the highest paid in the region.
The resolution of this dispute will not only impact GNE and its employees but may also serve as a precedent for similar labor disputes within the bus industry. By taking a global approach, GNE is pushing the boundaries of traditional negotiations and seeking to create innovative solutions to address the concerns of its workforce.
1. What is the ongoing dispute between GNE and its workers?
The dispute revolves around pay and working conditions. GNE bus drivers initiated a strike on October 28, demanding fair wages and improved working conditions.
2. Why did a delegation of GNE bus drivers travel to Canada?
The delegation traveled to Toronto to meet with officials from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which has connections to the company that controls Go Ahead, the parent company of GNE. The purpose of the meeting was to seek support and apply pressure to bring about a resolution to the ongoing dispute.
3. How does this international meeting benefit the GNE workers?
The visit to Canada signifies an escalation in efforts to bring an end to the strike. By widening the scope of their negotiations and gaining international support, the GNE workers hope to increase the pressure on the company to address their concerns.
4. What is the position of Unite the Union in the dispute between GNE and its workers?
Unite the Union has been actively supporting the GNE workers in their fight for fair wages and better working conditions. If a satisfactory deal is not reached, Unite has indicated that they will escalate their actions against Go North East.
5. What has Go North East offered to resolve the dispute?
Go North East has offered a 10.3% increase in wages this year and a rise above inflation in the following year. They argue that this offer is unprecedented and would make their drivers the highest paid in the region.