No Arriva buses in Merseyside as 1,800 workers go on continuous all-out strike

Drivers and staff at depots in Merseyside and Manchester have walked out over a pay dispute.

There will be no Arriva bus services in Liverpool from Wednesday morning as workers begin a continuous all-out strike over a pay dispute.

The industrial action will affect the majority of services throughout the North West of England as a reported 1,800 drivers and staff walk out of transport depots in Merseyside and Manchester.

The strike is being supported by the Unite and GMB trade unions, which say their members have been offered a pay deal which is inadequate given spiralling prices and the cost of living crisis.

Arriva North West (ANW) said only the Liverpool Clatterbridge Hospital shuttle service would run as planned in Merseyside.

‘Generous pay rise’ - what Arriva have said

ANW said they have put together an offer ‘a generous pay rise of 8.5%’ that would see their bus drivers in Merseyside receive an hourly rate of £14.67, but claim it has not been put to union members in a ballot.

The company say the offer would put their drivers on the highest rate among the major bus operators in the North West.

A planned strike at Stagecoach Merseyside was called off earlier this week after workers’ union Unite secured a ‘substantial’ pay increase to give bus drivers £14.20 per hour from January 2023.

Howard Farrall, North West & Wales area operating director for Arriva UK Bus 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.

“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.”

‘Miserly offers’ - what the unions have said

Unite say the Stagecoach strikes were only called off after a pay increase of over 11% was agreed.

The union 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.

Arriva workers strike in Liverpool. Image: LTV

Unite regional officer Dave Roberts said: “Arriva bus workers play a crucial role in keeping the North West moving.

“This dispute has been fermenting for years as bus drivers have seen their hard work taken for granted and rates of pay steadily eroded.

“Unite remains committed to resolving the dispute at the earliest possible opportunity and it will embark on fresh negotiations any time, any place and anywhere, provided Arriva is prepared to make an improved offer.”

Robbie Marnell, GMB regional organiser, said: “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. They are hiding behind the impact of the pandemic and the removal of government funding to justify their miserly offers.

“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.”

What services will be affected?

Arriva North West (ANW) said only the Liverpool Clatterbridge Hospital shuttle service would run as planned in Merseyside.

For the duration of the industrial action journey planning in the north west region on the Arriva website and Arriva UK Bus App will be disabled.

Arriva customers with pre-paid tickets travelling in Cheshire will be able to use them on buses operated by D&G Buses, visit https://www.dgbus.co.uk/ for service details.

Arriva customers with pre-paid tickets of 7 days or more (that were purchased and activated before the date of the strike, and remain within their validity period) will be accepted for travel on some Metrolink Lines, for details see https://tfgm.com/arriva-bus-strike