Unite have sent a four person delegation to Canada to put pressure on a major stakeholder of Go North East as part of ongoing strikes.

The delegation includes bus representatives involved in the dispute who want to meet with the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union (OPSEU) and request its assistance in getting a fair resolution to the dispute.

More than 1,300 Unite members at the bus company have been striking for four weeks for better pay and conditions.

The OPSEU pension fund, run by the OPTrust, owns a controlling stake in one parent company of Go North East and a majority stake in another.

If OPSEU were swayed by the delegation it could play a large role in resolving the issue.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: "Unite will do whatever it takes to secure pay justice for our members at Go North East and that includes crossing continents to lobby the key financial players in the company.

"Unite will continue to step up this campaign until the dispute is resolved and these workers receive a fair pay rise."

Unite believe that the dispute could be resolved for less than a quarter of the CEO’s annual pay packet, or less than one per cent of the group’s £50 million in profits.

Suzanne Reid, Unite's regional coordinating officer, added: "Unite’s leverage campaign has already taken us from Tyneside to Toronto in the fight for fair pay and we won’t stop until Go North East acknowledge our members’ claim."

Ben Maxfield, business director for Go North East, said: "Unite are, of course, free to talk to anybody they choose but the best way of settling this is for them to negotiate with us here in the north east on an urgent basis, rather than being in North America.

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"The pay offer on the table is excellent and the best anyone can remember the union ever getting.  It will make our drivers the best paid in the region. 

"Their hourly rate would rise by 10.3% to £14.15 and comes on top of a 10% rise they got a year ago.  The increase would typically be worth at least £2,700 annually; those working 41 hours a week would earn over £30,000 per year.”