BUS drivers are set to strike in January after union members voted to reject their latest pay offer.

The strike has been set for the week starting January 6, when about 650 Arriva bus drivers in County Durham, Darlington, Redcar, Stockton and Whitby are set to walk out.

Members of the union Unite voted by 72 per cent to reject the latest pay offer from Arriva, which was made last weekend.

They were due to go on strike last Sunday, but called it off following the new offer.

The new strike is set to take place from Sunday, January 6 to Saturday, January 12.

Unite regional officer Bob Bolam said: “Our members have today rejected by a large majority the revised pay offer that the management of Arriva Durham County Ltd made last weekend.

“The core of the dispute is the anger the bus drivers feel because they believe they are the second lowest paid drivers of all the Arriva bus companies across the UK.

“The revised offer failed to bridge that pay gap and our members can’t endure this glaring pay inequality – the ball is now very much in the management’s court.

“However, we appreciate the great inconvenience that the strike will cause to the travelling public in early January and, because of that, Unite is ready to hold constructive talks over the holiday period.”

Nigel Featham, head of Arriva buses in the region, said: "We regret UNITE’s decision to call a strike in the new year.

"Arriva has done everything in its power to avoid this outcome, having made considerable concessions in pay talks.

"Industrial action will achieve nothing but misery for the travelling public.

"Our offer, the best made to our drivers in modern times, remains on the table."

The bus drivers rejected the revised package which included 75p on the hourly rate over two years in four instalments. The drivers are seeking an increase £1 per hour on the rates for the year starting March 2018.

Drivers are asking for a £1-an-hour pay rise for the year starting March 2018.

Arriva claims that adds up to a 21 per cent rise in its overall wage bill and claims it has tabled an improved pay offer worth 7.5 per cent for drivers.