Disabled kids’ school bus drivers strike a deal with Hackney Council over split shift pay

Drivers and passenger assistants in the Special Education Needs Service have come to a deal with the

Drivers and passenger assistants in the Special Education Needs Service have come to a deal with their employer Hackney Council following strike action in support of a pay claim - Credit: Unite the Union

Drivers and passenger escorts on school buses for disabled children accepted a financial settlement yesterday, as they embarked on another day of strike action in a dispute over payments for working split shifts.

The 38 workers who staff about 14 buses - which each carry 18 to 19 autistic children aged four to 18 to and from school were asking for an extra £50 a week to work split shifts.

They start a two-hour shift at Lea Bridge Road depot at 7.30am, and once that's over they had five-and-a-half-hours to kill until the next two-hour shift at 3pm.

Many of them travel home and back, and some commute four hours daily for just four hours' paid work.

The dispute has been ongoing since July 2017, but yesterday they accepted an offer on the picket line as they began a 48-hour strike - although would not disclose what the offer is.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: "The financial offer includes a consolidated lump sum each year together with the conciliation service Acas going into the workplace to look at the issues raised by our members during this long-running dispute.

"This is a significant victory for a lowly-paid, but dedicated, workforce doing vital work helping some of the most vulnerable children in the borough," he said.

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"I would like to pay tribute to the solidarity and perseverance of our members as they fought for pay justice in one of the world's most expensive cities."

Cllr Chris Kennedy explained the deal includes a change to the job description to include increased liaison with schools.

He said: "We think this will add value to the work of the team, and financial recognition of this change.

"We value our staff who run this vital service and have been keen to end the dispute led by Unite for the sake of the vulnerable children they support and the members of staff themselves.

"Our door has always been open to continue discussions, however we have always been clear that we cannot simply "top up" wages.

"I am delighted that both sides were able to engage in positive negotiations and reach this sensible settlement."