Bus workers covering services to and from South Holland are set to be balloted for industrial action in a row over union recognition rights.
Activists from across the country gathered in King’s Lynn today for a protest march and rally arranged as part of the Rail Maritime and Transport union’s (RMT) ongoing dispute with Norfolk Green.
The company, which operates the 505 service from Spalding to King’s Lynn and the 50 run from Long Sutton to Wisbech, says it intends to wait for the outcome of an arbitration hearing to be held on the issue in London next month.
But the RMT’s assistant general secretary, Mick Lynch, said members would be receiving letters this week about the planned ballot.
And he urged members: “Stand by this campaign, stand by the RMT, stand by each other and we’ll win the day.”
The union is angry about what it claims is the company’s refusal to grant recognition that would enable it to negotiate pay and working conditions on behalf of its members.
They say that more than 100 King’s Lynn-based staff have joined the union since last September and their members now account for around three-quarters of the total workforce.
Stagecoach East, Norfolk Green’s parent company, have previously said they have a region-wide recognition arrangement with the Unite union.
Chief executive Andy Campbell said their position had not changed and they, the RMT and Unite had been called to give evidence to an arbitration hearing which will take place at the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) in London on June 10.
And he described the union’s move to ballot for industrial action before the outcome of the arbitration was known as “bizarre.”
He said: “They’re the ones who went to the CAC requesting arbitration.
“If I was on the arbitration committee, I don’t think I’d take too kindly to the felling, to some degree, you’re being held to ransom.”
But Mr Lynch insisted they did not want to take industrial action over the dispute.
However, he added: “We will not allow our members’ choice to be over-ridden by anybody, whether it’s the CAC, Norfolk Green, the local management or Stagecoach nationally.
“It’s our members’ choices that are going to carry the day and we’re determined to win that organisation.”
He said the ballot would close a week after the CAC hearing.
And he pledged the union would seek to complete a full barganing arrangement with the company if the CAC, as he put it, “sees sense.”