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GUEST BLOG: Philip Walchester, National Express

National Express Group was the first private transport group to announce that it would be paying all its UK staff the higher, voluntary Living Wage and the coach division has now accredited as a real Living Wage Employer. It joins a growing movement of over 4,600 Living Wage Employers that are all celebrating Living Wage Week 2018 this week.

The National Express UK Bus division operates local bus services within the West Midlands, Coventry and Dundee. As the largest division of the UK business and one of Birmingham and the West Midlands’ biggest employers, it led the way and has been an accredited Living Wage Employer since 2016.

National Express’s coach division is the largest operator of scheduled coach services in the UK, operating high frequency journeys serving around 900 destinations across the country. It has now made a national commitment to pay all UK employees the higher, voluntary Living Wage.

The announcement brings fantastic news for National Express employees up and down the country. Philip Walchester, an employee of National Express West Midlands, was fortunate enough to benefit from an increase to the real Living Wage in 2016. Philip shares what this increase in pay has meant for him.


I’ve been with National Express West Midlands since February 2015 and benefitted when we adopted the higher, voluntary Living Wage at the start of 2016.

With two young daughters, I’m incredibly grateful to National Express for accommodating my commitments outside of work. The company has allowed me to work compressed hours – longer days, four days a week. This means I can take care of my daughters on Wednesdays. We’re very fortunate that between grandparents and my partner moving to fewer days working, we’ve been able to take care of all childcare ourselves.

Without being on the real Living Wage, my partner and I could have really struggled with getting our mortgage, buying a house and being able to start a family.

It’s refreshing to have an employer who gives me the feeling they want to invest in me, my health, my wellbeing and my future – and not just get labour for the cheapest outlay in the short term. This makes me feel valued and in turn I take more pride in being a part of the team at National Express and more committed to justifying that faith. When employers take measures which alleviate stresses to their employees, such as paying a real Living Wage to their staff, I believe this ultimately drives productivity and brings multiple benefits to businesses.

From previous working experience, I’ve witnessed at all levels of management, a push to keep labour and overheads as low as possible. That led to a high turnover of staff, often at short notice, which had a knock on effect for the remaining staff who felt demoralised and overworked. As desperate as people are for jobs, this approach will not help companies keep skills and establish leaders for the future.

Following this week’s fantastic news that a major transport organisation - National Express - is ensuring a hard day’s work is reflected with a fair day’s pay for its entire workforce, I would urge everyone to follow their lead and take up the real Living Wage – it is what people need to live. Less than that and your staff will struggle to subsist. Investing in your people and helping to prevent such struggles will benefit both your business and the wider society.

Become a Living Wage Employer today.


6th November 2018, 08:00
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