HUNDREDS of bus drivers are to go on strike in a fight over pay.

Unite has announced the industrial action involving Arriva drivers will take place from Sunday, December 16. 

Unite said that "the crux of the dispute was the belief that bus drivers working for Arriva Durham County Ltd were the second lowest paid drivers of all the Arriva bus companies across the UK".

Drivers at Darlington, Durham, Redcar, Stockton and Whitby will walk out at 12.01am on December 16 until 11.59pm on Saturday, December 22, after voting by 95 per cent for strike action in pursuit of a £1 an hour pay rise for the year starting March 2018.

The union said lengthy talks were held on Friday between Unite and the management - and Unite says a company response to those talks is expected later this week.

Unite regional officer Bob Bolam said: “At the centre of this dispute is an understanding that the Arriva drivers in County Durham are the second lowest paid of all the bus drivers in the Arriva ‘family’ across the UK.

The Northern Echo:

“Pay talks were held with the company on Friday and we are expecting a management response to those negotiations later this week. We also discussed speeding up the increments so that the drivers reach the top of their pay band more quickly.

"The last thing our members want is to take such industrial action in the run-up to Christmas as it will cause massive inconvenience to the travelling public. If the strike goes ahead, we don’t believe Arriva will be able to run more than a few ‘token’ bus services.

“Our members have voted overwhelmingly for pay justice and are not prepared to continue to badly lag behind other Arriva drivers in the country doing similar jobs.

“Unite is ready 24/7 for constructive talks to reach a fair settlement for our members – our door is always open for such negotiations.”

A spokesperson for Arriva told The Northern Echo: "Arriva Bus is currently in negotiation with UNITE Union regarding a new pay award to Arriva bus drivers in the North-East region.

"UNITE has served notice to Arriva that it is to call a seven-day strike from Sunday December 16 if its demands are not met.

"A further meeting between Arriva and UNITE is planned for Wednesday December 5 in an attempt to reach agreement and avoid a strike.

"Further updates will be provided in due course."