‘I don’t blame them’ - Arriva bus strikes in Merseyside continue into fourth week

As the latest talks between the bus operator and unions break down, we explore how the strikes are affecting commuters.

The Arriva bus strike heads into its fourth week after talks between the operator and unions collapsed again on Friday.

The industrial action over pay and conditions, which began last month, involves 1,800 members of Unite and GMB who are employed in bus garages across the North West, including Merseyside.

The only service still running is the Liverpool Clatterbridge Hospital shuttle service.

Travellers have been facing travel disruption, not only on buses, but with ongoing train strikes too. We spoke to commuters in Liverpool to see how they're feeling.

‘They deserve more money’

Norman tells us what he thinks of bus drivers striking

Norman said: "It's wrong for them to say don't give them more money, we can't afford to give them more money. That's a lie. They can afford it, and they deserve more money. Have you seen what bus drivers go through nowadays?"

‘The last bus is 9:35 at night’

Bill tells us what he thinks of bus drivers striking

Bill said: "I can only get the Stagecoach now, 53 or the X2, and the last bus is 9:35 at night. So, I've got to make sure I have three or four pints instead of about eight; otherwise, I'll miss the bus!"

‘I don’t blame them’

Diane tells us what she thinks of bus drivers striking

Diane said: "I don't blame them. It's actually like living in the 50s now in 2022 because you've got every strike under the sun which is the same as when I was a child."

What the Unions say

Unite say that bus drivers have suffered real terms pay cuts. Since 2017 the pay of bus drivers in the North West has declined by 2% in real terms when compared to inflation.

The unions say the 8.5% offer from Arriva was well below aspirations and inflation. United and GMB have a 12 week mandate from its members for strike action.

What Arriva say

On Friday, Arriva North West released the following statement: “Despite further negotiations today and having done all we can to make another improved offer, the Unions have once again chosen to walk away, causing further misery for our passengers. At this point, we are left questioning why they refuse to give their members the opportunity to vote on our offers, which would make our drivers the highest paid in the region.”

“We would like to apologise to our passengers for the ongoing disruption that this dispute is causing to their everyday lives. On our side, we are acting in good faith and doing all we can to find a resolution. We urge Unite and GMB to do the same, reconsider their position, call an end to inappropriate strike action and give their members the opportunity to ballot on our latest offers.”

Arriva and Stagecoach cuts to bus services

Last week it was revealed that service withdrawals, reductions and operator changes have been confirmed across five of the six boroughs in Liverpool City Region.

Following a two-week consultation in June, Arriva and Stagecoach have confirmed the swathes of changes they have put forward to services in Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral and St Helens from September.

The move to shake up more than 70 services has gone ahead despite opposition from political leaders and service users alike.