National Express gets warning about Stagecoach takeover

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Union Unite has warned National Express that its bid to takeover Stagecoach comes at a time of industrial unrest amongst the target firm’s staff.

Yesterday, the Birmingham-based travel giant announced it was to make a bid for Scottish counterpart Stagecoach in a move that could bring together two of the UK’s biggest transport firms.

The deal would value the Scottish firm at around £370m and both companies say that any merger deal would cut costs of administration and route-sharing for the firms, which suffered during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

However, Unite has said it is currently involved in around 20 separate disputes with Stagecoach across the country over pay and other related issues.

These disputes may result in industrial action across Stagecoach’s entire network during the autumn and winter, the union warned.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite members all over the UK are voting for industrial action right now over Stagecoach’s ‘penny pinching’ on pay. Stagecoach’s board should be in no doubt that Unite is now wholly dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of our members.

“The National Express board should be similarly advised that should their takeover bid for Stagecoach be successful, Unite will oppose the asset stripping and wage cuts that usually accompany such City maneuvers.”

Most of Stagecoach’s local operating companies failed to give the workers a pay rise in 2020, Unite said, even though the latest accounts revealed a profit of £58.4m and £875m of available liquidity.

Unite national officer for passenger transport Bobby Morton said: “Unless Stagecoach’s board sends a clear message to its local operators that they are to give their staff a decent pay rise, there will very likely be separate strikes all over its bus network come October, whether there is a change of owners or not.”