BUS drivers at a North-East firm are being balloted for industrial action over a pay dispute.

Workers at Stagecoach North-East's Sunderland Wheatsheaf depot have rejected a pay deal.

Bosses at the GMB union say its members have turned down a 2.4 per cent pay award spread over 15 months.

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Steve Gibbons, GMB's northern regional organiser, said: “We believe the offer is not enough considering our members have taken below inflation pay rises for a number of years whilst Stagecoach have enjoyed decent profits.

“The workloads of our members have increased and there are constant attacks on other terms and conditions by the company.

“If the company continues its current path, then it may be a case of 'stop the bus, I want to try another one'.”

A Stagecoach spokesman told The Northern Echo the firm hoped workers would accept its offer.

He said: “The company has put forward a range of increases from 2.1 per cent to 2.4 per cent for periods of 12 to 15 months, which the local GMB branch has recommended to members.

“We have not asked for any changes to terms and conditions of work and believe our offers are extremely fair.

“Stagecoach North-East has provided secure employment through the recession and continued to invest in our business in Sunderland, while absorbing many increasing costs.

“Recent investment includes £2.5m in 21 new buses, with a further 17 gas buses about to go into service.

“All this is designed to provide a strong and stable business for many years to come, and we would urge the workforce to accept one of these very reasonable offers.”