Go North East: New pay offer as bus operator seeks to avoid indefinite strike

Unite members from Go North East will vote on a new pay deal ahead of an indefinite strike scheduled to start on Saturday. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Bus workers will vote on a new pay offer aimed at averting indefinite strike action.

Go North East, part of the Go-Ahead Group, announced on Wednesday that it has tabled a new offer for a 10.3% rise to try to end an industrial dispute that has brought services to a halt in recent weeks.

Members of the Unite union have already staged two week-long walkouts with a continuous strike due to start on Saturday 28 October.

The tabled pay rise would see drivers paid £14.15 an hour, alongside a guaranteed above-inflation pay increase next year too, which the operator says would make its drivers the best-remunerated in the region as they seek to avoid further strike action.

Unite confirmed it will now ballot its 1,300-plus members at Go North East on whether to accept.

The union has complained the average wage for a Go North East driver is £12.83 per hour, compared to £15.53 for drivers at Go North West – a rate that the company’s new offer still does not match.

Unite members at Go North East have already held two week-long strikes. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Go North East’s business director Ben Maxfield said: “An end to strike action would bring a huge sense of relief. Staff have been worried sick about the damage a 12-week stoppage will cause, and passengers face massive and unnecessary disruption to their daily lives.

“We have spent a lot of time listening to colleagues and worked collaboratively with the union to fine-tune our pay proposals. We are proud that this milestone move will see our drivers top the earnings league in the North East.

“We are urging all our employees to support the deal so we can get back to focusing on providing the high quality, reliable and growing bus transport network the region deserves.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said last week - before today's offer - that Go North East workers were being given a “raw deal” compared to drivers doing the same job in Greater Manchester.

She added: “Our members aren’t asking for the moon– they just want a fair day’s pay. And Unite will be backing them every step of the way.”

The ballot will close at noon on Friday just 12 hours before the scheduled indefinite strike is due to start.

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