A STRIKE by bus drivers could be averted at the eleventh hour if talks are successful.

Arriva bus drivers have voted to go on strike for seven days from Sunday in a dispute over pay.

Management at Arriva Bus and representatives of the Unite trade union began last-ditch talks on Wednesday in an attempt to avert threatened industrial action.

Arriva North East said: "We would like to take this opportunity to apologise for the delay updating you regarding the potential strike action next week. Today's talks (Wednesday) with the union were not concluded and will continue tomorrow morning. Further information will be issued when the talks are complete."

Arriva's regional managing director Nigel Featham said the company was doing 'everything in its power' to halt the strike, which would affect services in the Teesside, Darlington and Durham areas.

If the outcome of the talks is positive it is understood Unite could suspend the strike while the union consults its members.