A WEEK-long bus strike will leave some elderly people "cut off from civilisation", it was last night claimed, as hundreds of Arriva drivers walked out yesterday in a dispute over pay and conditions.

650 drivers in County Durham, Tees Valley, east Cleveland and parts of North Yorkshire began a seven-day strike yesterday in a move expected to cause major disruption across the whole of the North-East.

 

Dozens of drivers picketed outside the Arriva depot in Faverdale, Darlington, explaining they were taking industrial action to better the lives of themselves and their families, and were not striking "against the public".

But some regular bus users were critical of the move, saying they had been forced to rearrange medical appointments.

They also said the decision to strike had been taken "too hastily", as there had not been enough time for those who rely on the buses to make alternative arrangements.

Betsy Williams, 72 and a Darlington resident, said she had only found out about the strike yesterday morning.

"I didn't know anything about it – if you don't have a computer nowadays you don't get to find out anything.

"It has all happened too hastily, they could have waited to let us make other plans and tell us what was happening."

Another Darlington resident, Caroline Hunter, 52, said she was "disgusted" by the strike.

"They'll be old ladies cut off from civilisation now for a week, a neighbour of mine has had to rearrange a doctor appointment because she can't get there. It's ridiculous."

Talks to avoid strike action collapsed last week, and Arriva took the unprecedented step of releasing wage figures which it said showed their drivers would be among the best paid in the region under its latest offer.

But Kev Foreman, spokesperson for the bus drivers, said yesterday Arriva have been putting out "false information" and they were asking for equality across the region.

"All we can do is apologise to the travelling public – we don't want to disrupt their lives, but what we are doing is taking industrial action to better our lives and our families' lives.

"We fully appreciate people rely on the buses – they are the people that pay our wages at the end of the day.

"It is not against the public – none of this action is being taken against the public. It is against Arriva North-East.

"We are hoping Arriva will (listen to our concerns) - we met with them last Thursday. They didn't table any new offer, they made no attempt to talk with us over pay or conditions."

Do you agree with the strike action by Arriva bus drivers?

Do you agree with the strike action by Arriva bus drivers?

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