Arriva bus strike: walk-outs in Greater Manchester to start in July as employees back action in pay dispute

Employees of Arriva have voted in large numbers for strike action after what leading trade union Unite described as a ‘pitiful’ pay offer.

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Bus drivers in Greater Manchester are set to go on strike in July in a pay dispute, raising the prospect of large-scale disruption for public transport passengers in the city-region.

Employees at Arriva across the North West are set to walk out after voting in large numbers for industrial action.

Trade union Unite said the drivers had received a “pitiful” pay offer which is inadequate in the face of current inflation levels and the cost of living crisis.

The company said it will be holding further talks with the unions this week as it aims to reach what it terms “a fair and affordable pay deal”.

When is the bus strike happening and why?

Unite says all-out, continuous strike action at Arriva will begin on 20 July, with the depots in Manchester and Bolton two of the 11 centres across the North West which are involved.

All-out strike action raises the prospect of considerable disruption to bus services across Greater Manchester.

Unite says there was a resounding mandate for the walk-outs from its ballot, with around 1,800 workers across the North West returning a 96 per cent yes vote in favour of strike action on a 72 per cent turnout.

Unite says its members have been offered a three per cent pay rise with no strings attached or one of six per cent which requires them to agree to reductions in sick pay and loss of extra money for working on Saturdays.

Both the offers are far below the current real inflation rate (RPI) of 11.7 per cent and so constitute a pay cut, the trade union said.

The GMB union is also involved in the North West dispute at Arriva.

The majority of workers taking part in the dispute are drivers but it also includes roles such as engineers.

What has been said about the vote for strike action?

Unite regional officer Dave Roberts said: “The forthcoming strike action is set to cause widespread disruption to bus services throughout the North West. However, this dispute is all about greed not need. Arriva could make its workers a decent offer but it chose not to.

“Even now strikes can be avoided if Arriva made an offer which meets members’ expectations and returns to the negotiating table.”

The union’s general secretary Sharon Graham added: “This dispute is entirely of Arriva’s own making. It can fully afford to ensure its workers receive decent pay and conditions.

“Instead, Arriva has made our members a pitiful offer. Not only do they want workers to accept a real terms pay cut, they also want them to sacrifice their sick pay. This is just not acceptable.

“Unite will back these members to the hilt until this dispute is resolved and they receive a decent pay increase.”

An Arriva spokesperson said: “Further discussions with our trade union partners, Unite and GMB, are being held later this week.

“We remain focused on offering a fair and affordable pay deal which is reflective of our unions’ aspirations as well as ensuring our vital bus services and networks are sustainable across the North West. We will update when there’s news.”