DISABLED and elderly Wiganers could be left without vital transport as Ring and Ride workers plan to strike on one of the company’s busiest weekdays.
Ring and Ride Wigan drivers, who provide transport for people who have difficulties using public transport, have voted for industrial action this Friday – November 11 – a day when many of its disabled customers rely heavily on the transport to go shopping in the town centre.
Ring and Ride bosses offered the workers an hourly pay increase although this was refused and union members voted in favour of a strike.
Workers say that last year they were given an increase of 15p an hour. The possible disruption to the service, which operates across the borough, is causing concern to Wigan’s disabled and elderly folk, according to the organisation which represents many of them.
Joe Healan, Secretary of Wigan Access Committee, said: “This industrial action will cause a lot of worry and a lot of disruption to the people who use this service.
“People are very grateful for what Ring and Ride do and it’s an essential service which many people heavily rely on due to their health or disability.
“A Friday is a particularly busy day as it is very popular for shopping before the weekend. Many Ring and Ride customers will get dropped off at Shopmobility in Wigan and go shopping.”
Bernard Rowen, Managing Director of Ring and Ride, said: “It’s disappointing that members of Unite who are working for the Ring and Ride service have voted for industrial action on Friday, November 11.
“We have worked closely with Unite to try to negotiate a way forward, including an offer of an hourly pay increase for drivers and senior drivers.
“However, it is simply not financially possible for Ring and Ride, a publicly-funded organisation, to offer all its staff a substantial pay increase this year, particularly in the current economic climate.
“We are sorry for the disruption the industrial action by some of our drivers and call centre staff will inevitably cause.
“Although we will work to provide the best service we can with a limited number of staff, a large proportion of services are likely to be cancelled.
“We will contact passengers who have already booked journeys for November 11 by phone to advise them.
“We appreciate that many of our customers are heavily reliant on Ring and Ride services to get them from A to B, and we’d like to thank them for their patience and understanding.”
The service will be running as normal on other days of the week.