Arriva bus drivers threaten seven-day strike
North Yorkshire, Cleveland, Teesside and Durham areas all to be affected
Drivers in the UNITE trade union working for bus operator Arriva have voted to go on strike for seven days from Sunday 16th December in a bid to create massive transport disruption across the North Yorkshire, Cleveland, Teesside and Durham areas. An ACAS meeting between Arriva management and trade union representatives held yesterday (5 December) failed to reach an agreement over UNITE’s 20%-plus pay demand.
Drivers at depots in Redcar and Whitby, Darlington, Durham and Stockton voted unanimously to back industrial action in November, resulting in the planned seven-day strike during the pre-Christmas period intended to create maximum travel difficulties for workers, school children, festive period shoppers, local businesses and the elderly.
Arriva management has urged drivers to reconsider their position, and has tabled an improved pay offer worth over 7.5% for drivers. Arriva Durham County drivers currently (before the 7.5% offer made to them by management) earn well above the average working wage for hourly paid workers in the region and have never been subject to any management imposed pay freezes or below-inflation pay settlements that so many other workers in the region have faced.
Arriva managing director for the region, Nigel Featham, has appealed for common sense to prevail in an effort to avert the strike. “We urge our drivers to re-consider this extreme action that hurts our passengers, our employees and, ultimately, our ability to make pay increases. In our view a 20%-plus pay demand is excessive, unreasonable and ill-timed in the present economic climate.”
If UNITE refuses to reconsider its position and presses ahead with industrial action Arriva will post full details of routes to be affected on its website, social media and help line in order to keep the public informed.
Unite’s demands not only cover increased pay but also a reduction in driving hours for their members together with the introduction of paid meal breaks for all drivers. If met, Unite’s demands would increase the bus operator’s overall wage bill by 21%.
In its own communications on the strike UNITE has omitted mentioning their 20%-plus demand and is instead pushing an unsubstantiated claim that drivers working for Arriva Durham County Ltd are paid less than Arriva drivers in other UK regions. While headline hourly rates can vary across the UK a number of other factors, such as driver benefits, length of service and cost of living indices for different regions, have to be taken into account in order to achieve a true comparison.