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Halloween travel chaos as bus drivers to strike all weekend over pay dispute

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The approximate 2,000 employees branded a pay offer from Arriva as “unsatisfactory” and decided “imminent” industrial action was needed. They’ll strike across Liverpool, Manchester and other parts of the north west of England across Halloween weekend.

It’s feared it’ll cause disruption over Halloween, traditionally a busy period with parties and events.

But the employees’ trade union Unite has backed the decision, made after an 87% vote in favour of strike action.

A spokesperson for Unite said: “Arriva North West was responsible for the likelihood of all-out strike action, which is scheduled to begin this Saturday (30 October), due to its failure to offer a decent wage increase.”

In response, Arriva North West said its improved offer would mean their employees remain the highest paid in the region, and the increased offer is “highly competitive and fair” at a time when bus passenger levels remain lower than pre-Covid levels.

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

On Wednesday and Thursday this week, members will vote on the company’s last-minute offer of a 2% pay increase, 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.”

Unite regional officer Alison Spencer-Scragg said: “Unite’s reps have bent over backwards during negotiations to find a way forward that would avoid strike action.

“Talks went down to the wire last week, but Arriva’s unsatisfactory last minute offer means strikes are likely to begin this weekend.

“Bus drivers were rightly hailed as heroes during the worst days of the pandemic and our members believe that Arriva should make an offer that reflects this.”

Arriva has around 16,000 employees across the country, though only those in the north west have voted to strike.

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.”



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