Go North East bus strike to end as workers accept pay deal

Go North East workers have accepted a pay deal after almost five weeks on strike. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Bus workers have ended their strike after accepting a new pay deal.

The union Unite said the workers at Go North East, who have been on strike since 28 October, had secured a "substantial pay increase".

It means the strike, which has been ongoing for almost five weeks, causing chaos for bus users across the region, is at an end.

Services will resume from Saturday 2 December.

The union said drivers, engineers and administrators would get an 11.2% pay rise. This includes a 10.5% rise from July 2023 and a further 0.7% rise in January 2024.

They will also get another pay rise in July 2024.

It means a driver currently earning £12.83 an hour will see their pay rise to £14.17, and £14.27 from January.

Bus drivers voted in favour of accepting the pay deal by a margin of just seven votes, with 616 people accepting the deal and 609 rejecting it. Only one of the 1226 drivers balloted failed to return their vote.

Meanwhile 69% of engineers voted to accept and 86% of administrators voted to accept.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Go North East workers should be congratulated on their victory for better pay. They stood together in unity until their employer returned to negotiations and made an improved offer. Make no mistake, Unite Is here to fight for workers, I will do whatever is needed to help workers secure good pay deals, that commitment has been clearly demonstrated during this dispute.

“Unite the union keeps winning across the passenger transport sector and securing better pay for our members.”

Martin Gannon, leader of Gateshead Council, described it as "excellent news". He said: "People's lives have been devastated. I'm receiving dozens of emails every day from people who can't get to work or to doctors appointments, young people who can't get to college. The vast majority of people in the region rely on bus services and without them their lives have been devastated."

He added: "I'm still left with questions: why could this not have been done five weeks ago? I can't help but feel this dispute will have had a disastrous impact on people's confidence in bus services and public transport. Local authorities are doing a lot of work and investing millions of pounds in trying to encourage people to stop using their cars and to rely on public transport.

"We want people to return to public transport. It's important for the environment, to reduce congestion and to save lives. I wonder about what damage this dispute will have had."

I also think it has a huge damaging impact on people's confidence

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