Arriva bus strike Liverpool 2022: why are drivers striking, when will it end - what happens next
Crunch votes are set to take place that might see the return of Arriva North West bus services to Merseyside this w as 1,800 workers enter their 28th consecutive day of strike action on Tuesday, 16 August 2022.
There have been a number of strikes over issues such as pay in Merseyside in recent months.
The ongoing RMT railway strike which occurred last month and has new dates set for August, as well as planned Royal Mail strike action and the recent Stagecoach walkouts shows concerns are rising amid the ongoing cost of living crisis.
Arriva North West joined the list on July 20 when over 1,800 workers walked out across the region leading to severe disruption of its services.
But why are GMB and Unite members striking? How long is it expected to last for? Are there any Arriva bus services still running in Merseyside? LiverpoolWorld has you covered with everything you need to know.
When are the Arriva bus strikes and how long will it last?
The bus strikes are currently ongoing as Merseyside enters its third week of no Arriva bus services.
Strike action began on Wednesday, July 20 at 2am and is continuous - meaning it will carry on until all parties reach an agreement on a pay rise for workers.
The bus company and unions recently confirmed that the issues over strike action are still yet to be resolved, despite a meeting on Monday, August 1, and again the following Friday.
As a result, an official end date has not been confirmed so strike action is headed for a fourth consecutive week, starting Monday, August 8.
Arriva have expressed their extreme ‘disappointment’ at the uncertainty surrounding the imminent future of their bus services in Liverpool and the surrounding Merseyside region.
Workers’ union Unite says the pay offers so far have been below the rate of inflation and therefore amount to a paycut.
The offer has been described as ‘pitiful’ by members and union officials and Mayor of Liverpool Joeanne has written to Arriva chief executive Mike Cooper and criticised the “pitifully low pay increase” offered to workers.
The unions have been given a 12-week mandate for industrial action by their members so this strike could run and run.
However, crunch votes are set to take place after Arriva issued staff an improved pay rise offer, with members set to decide whether or not to agree to it.
The votes will take place from Monday, 15 August into Tuesday, 16 August - this is the first time the unions have deemed a pay rise offer suitable enough to put forward to its members for a vote.
An Arriva spokesperson issued the following statement: “Following re-convened pay negotiations today, Arriva has tabled an improved offer that has enabled Unite the Union and GMB to ballot members on this offer. The ballot will take place on Monday, 15th and Tuesday, 16th August 2022.
“All parties are working hard to bring the industrial action to a conclusion with the desire to resume service on Wednesday, 17th August.”
Why are they 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.
Officials at the company have called for Unite and GMB members to call off their plans for what would be a “damaging” strike.
Though the unions have pointed out that the bus drivers have seen their hard work “taken for granted” but are still willing to negotiate with Arriva if they come forward with an improved offer.
Arriva have expressed their discontent surrounding the unions, saying: “We remain committed to getting our drivers back to work and buses back on the road as soon as possible. We once again ask the union to call off the action and let our people vote on the latest 8.5% pay offer.”
However, the unions dispute that offer. Unite regional officer Dave Roberts said: “Arriva have not offered 8.5% they have offered 5% followed by a further 3.5% in October so their line isn’t factually correct. We have a clear mandate from our members and the company’s offer does not meet them.”
Are Arriva bus services still running in Liverpool?
Arriva North West (ANW) has confirmed that they have had to cancel a large majority of its services as a result of the bus worker strike action.
It is understood that the only service left running in Liverpool is the Liverpool Clatterbridge Hospital shuttle service, which is continuing to run as planned.
You can visit the official Arriva website for further information.