Arriva bus workers in the North West voted in huge numbers for the all-out strike action that began on Wednesday and means there are currently no services operating within Merseyside and Lancashire.
Around 1,800 workers returned a 96% yes vote in favour of continuous strike action on a 72% turnout.
Unite says its members are striking over a pay offer from the German-owned transport giant of just 3% with no strings attached, or 6%, which included reductions in sick pay and loss of Saturday enhanced pay.
Both the offers are far below the current real inflation rate of 11.7% and so, unions say, constitute a pay cut. The GMB union is also involved in the industrial dispute.
Howard Farrall, operating director at Arriva, said: "We are very disappointed that we were unable to reach an agreement with Unite and GMB, who have confirmed they plan to hold a strike for an indefinite period across services in the North West.
“Our people play a hugely important role keeping communities moving, and they fully deserve a fair pay rise – especially with the cost-of-living increasing so much.
“It's why despite the significant pressures on the bus sector with increasing costs and passenger numbers still at below pre-pandemic levels, we have offered our people a generous pay rise of 8.5% - an increase far higher than most workers are receiving from their employers at a time of considerable economic pressure."
Reaction from the Merseyside public
Stuart said: “My mum gets the bus into town and it’s affecting her because she has Arthritis and that’s how she commutes. There has got to be a compromise.”
Emily said: “People have the right to strike for better working conditions, even if it is inconvenient for people; that’s the point.”
Keith said: “You don’t want it to impact people, but people have got to fight their corner - enough is enough.”