A SECOND bus strike could be called off if drivers vote in favour of a revised pay offer this week.

Unite the Union has reached a consensus with Arriva management after being locked in days of talks, and will ballot members on the pay offer tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Bus drivers in Darlington, Durham, Redcar, Stockton and Whitby held a seven-day strike earlier this month and had planned another ten-day strike from midnight this Sunday.

It is hoped that will be averted if the 650 drivers vote in favour of the new pay offer from Arriva. However, the union has not yet suspended the action.

Unite regional officer Ray Sanderson said: “I can confirm that our members are being balloted on a revised pay offer tomorrow and Thursday, following three days of talks with management. The ballot result will be announced on Friday morning (25 January).

“We won’t be revealing the details of the revised offer until our members have a chance to consider and vote on the deal.”

Unite said that the coming strike has not been suspended as yet, because it depends on the outcome of the ballot.

Arriva management said the improved pay deal was reached following three days of intensive negotiation between the bus operator and Unite - and said it now comprises the best pay deal ever put to Arriva Durham drivers.

Arriva managing director for the region, Nigel Featham, said the company had done 'everything in its power' to call a halt to further industrial action and to avoid disruption to passengers’ travel plans, adding: "While we’ve moved heaven and earth to seek a resolution we now need to await the outcome of the ballot."

Unite officials are reported to be satisfied they have now achieved the best possible deal on behalf of its members, hence the decision to put the improved offer to a further vote.

The ballots will take place in Arriva’s four depots across the region, in Darlington, Durham, Redcar and Stockton.