South and West Wales bus services grind to a halt as drivers walk out
BUS services ground to a halt in South and West Wales yesterday as drivers and engineers staged the first industrial action over pay in almost eight years.
Around 50 Unite union members manned picket lines at Swansea's Quadrant bus station and First Cymru's headquarters in the Ravenhill area of the city.
Drivers and engineers were taking strike action over pay despite a revised offer made by First and recommended for acceptance by Unite representatives on Tuesday last week.
Unite regional officer Richard Munn said the strike was well attended and added: "There were a lot of people out on the picket lines.
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"Our drivers take people to school and work and get them there on time regardless of the weather or the time of day.
"Our drivers are completely committed to the safety and punctuality of the people who use First Cymru and that is why we regret having to do this.
"Our members are struggling to afford the everyday costs of food and fuel. Unite is willing to meet First Cymru at any time to try to resolve this dispute and have expressed this to the company prior to the strike."
Mr Munn said further industrial action could not be ruled out in the future.
Staff at depots in Bridgend and Cardiff defied the strike and turned up for work.
Three park and ride services also ran as normal in Swansea as did several school and college services serving Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Carmarthen.
Ian Kirkpatrick, manager of Swansea's Quadrant shopping centre said: "I don't think it has been particularly quiet here."
First Cymru general manager Simon Cursio offered "sincere apologies" to passengers inconvenienced by the strike.
He added: "We would call on the union to seriously consider the damage and disruption their action is causing to our customers and the business.
"I can assure customers that we will do everything we reasonably can to bring this dispute to an end as quickly as possible.
"However, we remain confident that the offer currently available to staff is highly competitive particularly in light of the present economic conditions, coupled with cuts in Government funding in the bus industry, the first phase of which takes effect from today."
First Group was due to publish its latest set of financial results today.