THE decision to cancel a seven-day bus strike that would have decimated pre-Christmas services across the North-East is an extremely welcome one.

Talks between the management of bus company, Arriva, and leaders of the Unite union have resulted in a compromise agreement that will now be put to the union’s members.

As a result, the planned strike action that would have affected Arriva services across County Durham, Teesside and North Yorkshire has been shelved until at least the New Year.

Arriva’s drivers appear to have had a genuine grievance, with Unite having claimed that bus drivers working for Arriva Durham County Ltd were the second lowest paid of all Arriva bus companies in the UK.

However, Arriva’s management have returned to the table with an improved package that includes a new system for back pay awards from March 2018, a 7.6 per cent hourly pay increase over two years and a reduction in the time it takes drivers to qualify for the top rate of pay.

It is not for us to instruct Unite members how to vote in their forthcoming ballot. However, like thousands of bus users across the North-East, we are simply relieved that the Christmas period will not now see services grind to a standstill.

The elderly are more reliant on bus services than any other age group, and we are delighted to be able to report that their Christmas travel plans will not be ruined.