Bus drivers to strike for a week as they fight for pay rise

Bus drivers based in Durham will be among those who go on strike later this month.
Bus drivers based in Durham will be among those who go on strike later this month.

About 650 North East bus drivers are to strike for a week in a pay dispute with their bosses.

The action will begin on Sunday, December 16, Unite announced today.

The union said that the crux of the dispute was the belief that bus drivers working for Arriva Durham County Ltd were the second lowest paid drivers of all the Arriva bus companies across the UK.

Drivers in Durham, as well as Darlington, Redcar, Stockton and Whitby will walk out at 00.01 on Sunday, December 16, until 23.59 on Saturday, December 22, after voting by 95% for strike action in pursuit of a £1 an hour pay rise for the year starting March 2018.

The union said lengthy talks were held on Friday between its representatives and the management - and a company response to those talks is expected later this week.

Unite regional officer Bob Bolam said: “At the centre of this dispute is an understanding that the Arriva drivers in County Durham are the second lowest paid of all the bus drivers in the Arriva ‘family’ across the UK.

“Pay talks were held with the company on Friday and we are expecting a management response to those negotiations later this week.

"We also discussed speeding up the increments so that the drivers reach the top of their pay band more quickly.

“The last thing our members want is to take such industrial action in the run-up to Christmas as it will cause massive inconvenience to the travelling public.

"If the strike goes ahead, we don’t believe Arriva will be able to run more than a few ‘token’ bus services.

“Our members have voted overwhelmingly for pay justice and are not prepared to continue to badly lag behind other Arriva drivers in the country doing similar jobs.

“Unite is ready 24/7 for constructive talks to reach a fair settlement for our members – our door is always open for such negotiations.”

A spokeswoman for Arriva said: "Arriva Bus is currently in negotiation with Unite Union regarding a new pay award to Arriva bus drivers in the North East region.

"Unite has served notice to Arriva that it is to call a seven-day strike from Sunday, December 16, if its demands are not met.

"A further meeting between Arriva and Unite is planned for Wednesday, December 5, in an attempt to reach agreement and avoid a strike.

"Further updates will be provided in due course."