There have been a number of strikes over issues such as pay in Merseyside in recent months, such as the ongoing RMT railway strikes, as well as strike action at Royal Mail and Stagecoach - all displaying concerns amid the ongoing cost of living crisis.
Arriva North West joined the list on Sunday, 20 July when over 1,800 workers decided to walk out across the region which had brough a halt to all bus services across Merseyside, Lancashire, Cheshire and Greater Manchester.
After weeks of stalled negotiations and no breakthrough in talks, a pay-rise agreement has finally been agreed upon between GMB/Unite union members and ANW officials, bringing an end to strike action after 29 consecutive days.
But why were Arriva workers striking? What agreement have both parties reached? When is the exact time and date that bus services will return to Merseyside? LiverpoolWorld has you covered with everything you need to know.
How long have Arriva North West workers been striking for?
Strike action began on Wednesday, July 20 at 2am and was continuous - meaning it carried on until the trade unions and ANW reached an agreement on a pay rise for workers.
This brought a halt to 99-percent of Arriva bus services across the North West of England which has caused seismic disruption to the region’s public transport sector.
The unions were given a 12-week mandate for industrial action by their members which allowed this strike to run continuously, spanning for a total of 29 days.
Why were Arriva workers striking?
The main dispute between workers and officials at Arriva has been over pay.
Staff had been negotiating with the multinational public transport company over the last three months.
However, Arriva’s initial pay offer did not meet the rate of inflation and unions say the ‘new’ offer was actually the same 8.5% increase they rejected three weeks earlier.
The country is amidst a financially crippling cost of living crisis, with the prices of groceries, fuel and energy at record-highs.
Due to this, the GMB union believes that the pay increase needs to accommodate this.
“No worker should be struggling to cover their bills. But in the face of a cost of living crisis, Arriva needs to get real on its pay offers” said Robbie Marnell, the GMB Regional Organiser.
“Members have had enough after going the extra mile during Covid – working through the dangers of the pandemic – and now getting scant reward.
“The overwhelming strike mandate shows workers’ take on the miserly offer clearly. We have our deckchairs ready for the pickets.
“Hopefully the company will listen and get back around the table with a fair offer.”
Arriva had offered workers a pay rise of 8.5%, which is below the annual 40-year-high inflation rate of 9.4%, which was recorded last month.
The unions had pointed out that the bus drivers have seen their hard work “taken for granted” but were still willing to negotiate with Arriva if they come forward with an improved offer.
What was the major breakthrough in talks between Arriva North West and the trade unions?
Both parties consistently stalled on the negotiating table as the bus company put forward various pay-rise offers which the GMB and Unite union expressed were ‘pitiful’ and below the rate of inflation.
However, a major breakthrough was made when crunch votes took take place between Monday, 15 August and Tuesday, 16 August after the trade unions deemed an offer put forward by ANW suitable for members to vote on.
Despite this, members did not agree to it and it was revealed that the strike action would therefore continue.
In a sudden turn of events, it was announced that a pay-rise agreement had been reached between both Arriva North West and the unions in a deal that has been described as “unprecedented” in the afternoon of Wednesday, 17 August.
A spokesperson for Arriva North West issued the following statement: “Arriva North West is today able to confirm that following ongoing discussions in recent weeks, all parties have come to an agreement on an unprecedented pay deal for Arriva North West drivers. Following a meeting today, in which the agreement was reached, Unions will now take this recommended offer to our colleagues.”
Union members and ANW workers voted in favour of the pay-rise.
How much could the pay-rise be for Arriva North West workers?
As per the agreement and according to the Unite union, the new pay-rise offer agreed with Arriva North West constitutes to an 11.1-percent pay-rise.
A Unite spokesperson issued the following statement: “Following our members’ very strong rejection of the company’s offer yesterday evening, Arriva have seen sense and met the demands of our members by tabling an 11.1 per cent pay deal. Unite’s negotiating team is recommending the offer be accepted and it is being put to members in a vote.”
“The strike is suspended pending the outcome of the ballot and drivers are to return to work tomorrow to serve the needs of the community and public. The determination and resolve of our members has been solid throughout the industrial action and we thank those who have provided support and assistance to secure the offer from the company.”
When will Arriva bus services return in Liverpool and when will the strike action end?
After an agreement was reached between the unions and Arriva North West, the bus strike that has hit Merseyside and the North West hard over the last month is now over.
The complete timetable of Arriva North West bus services returned on Thursday, 18 August at 3 am in the morning.
In reaction to the news, an ANW spokesperson said: “Furthermore, it has also been agreed that industrial action across Cheshire, Lancashire, Manchester and Merseyside will be suspended from 3am on Thursday 18 August and all parties will now work together to progress the pay offer
“Arriva would like to thank our customers across the North West region, for your continued patience in recent weeks, during the extremely challenging Strike period. Timetable and Journey information, for Arriva North West services returning on Thursday August 18 can be found online at arrivabus.co.uk and via the Arriva journey planning.”