North West bus drivers set to strike over Halloween weekend

PA Images

Around 2,000 bus drivers across the north west who have voted ''overwhelmingly'' for industrial action are likely to begin striking this weekend in a row over pay, a union has said.

Trade union Unite said an "unsatisfactory" pay offer from bus company Arriva will likely result in "imminent bus strikes" across the region.

Around 2,000 drivers across Liverpool, Manchester and the north west of England are reported to have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action.

Unite said the strike action is scheduled to start on Saturday October 30. 

Pay negotiations between the union and Arriva North West have been running since June.

The ballot of 1,800 staff, based at depots in Runcorn, Bootle, Birkenhead, St Helens, Liverpool, Southport, Winsford and Manchester, resulted in an 87 per cent vote in favour of strike action, with a turnout of 76 per cent. 

On Wednesday and Thursday this week members will vote on the company's last minute offer of 2 per cent, which Unite believes will be rejected. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: "The last thing our members want to do is cause disruption to the public, but they have been forced into this position by Arriva's outright refusal to negotiate in good faith.''

"They have the full backing of their union, Unite, in their fight for a pay rise that reflects their worth. Arriva still has time to avoid these strikes, which is why I am urging the company to table a much stronger offer."

An Arriva UK Bus spokesperson said: "We are disappointed to hear that despite further talks with our Trade Unions and an improved offer, which would mean our employees remain the highest paid in the region, they have informed us that they still intend to strike from Saturday 30th October at 03:00.  

"We are working on contingency plans to ensure customers can access the bus services they need via other transport operators.  

"Arriva’s pay remains market leading and we firmly believe that our offer to increase pay is highly competitive and very fair at a time when bus passenger levels remains lower than pre-Covid levels.  Arriva wants to resolve this matter and discussions continue this week.”