Stagecoach Sunderland bus drivers set to strike for four days over Christmas

ITV Tyne Tees - screen shot from our own material
The announcement comes after around 200 drivers in Sunderland have already taken several days of strike action this year. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

A war of words is continuing over a planned four day strike by bus drivers over the Christmas period.

Stagecoach drivers in Sunderland have said they will walk out on 23, 24, 26 and 27 December after rejecting a pay offer.

The bus company warned the action would damage businesses in the city over the festive period.

A majority of GMB members rejected a pay offer, which the union described as "poverty pay" amounting to a real-terms wage cut.

Stagecoach said the offer would have made their drivers the highest paid in the country.

Neither sides have revealed the details of the offer.

Stuart Gilhespy, GMB organiser, said: "Sunderland’s bus drivers are clear – they are struggling in the cost of living crisis and deserve a decent pay offer from Stagecoach.

"Stagecoach's latest offer didn't match what drivers wanted - and Stagecoach knew this. They have failed to listen to their employees needs and instead choose to focus on their own profits.

"Sunderland’s drivers have seen workers in Stagecoach depots across the country receive double digit pay rises - they want and deserve the same."

Mr Gilhepsy asked the people of Sunderland to "stand with" the striking bus drivers.

Steve Walker, managing director of Stagecoach North East, said striking would not deliver a resolution to the dispute.

He said: "We are disappointed union members have rejected our latest pay offer which would have made Sunderland drivers the highest paid of any in the region.

"The festive season is one of the most important periods for so many local businesses and the employees who work for them. Drivers being asked by the union to go on strike will also be left out of pocket."

Almost 200 Sunderland bus drivers have already taken several days of strike action this year in the dispute over pay.

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