Bus workers employed by Arriva in the North West are continuing strike action this week in a dispute over pay. The all-out continuous industrial action began last Wednesday.
The strike is affecting the majority of services throughout the region as a reported 1,800 drivers and staff walk out of transport depots.
The continued industrial action means there are currently no Arriva bus services operating in Merseyside, with the exception of the Liverpool Clatterbridge Hospital shuttle service.
The strike is being supported by the Unite and GMB trade unions, who say their members have been offered a pay deal which is inadequate given spiralling prices and the cost of living crisis.
Unions say there have been no talks held between the parties over a pay offer since July 13 and that ‘there’s nothing on the horizon at all’.
No progress made
Dave Roberts, regional officer for Unite the Union told LiverpoolWorld: "There’s been no progress at all. The last meeting we had was July 13, when we rejected the offer that was put on the table and we’re still waiting to hear. We'd hope that they’d come to the table to renegotiate but at the minute there’s nothing on the horizon at all.
“We are quite disappointed at the disregard towards members of the public as well; we run a public service that is important, we know Arriva can afford to make a reasonable offer and they still haven’t done that. So, we are disappointed and have asked them to come back to the table and renegotiate."
A spokesperson for Arriva said: “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.”
Arriva pay offer claim disputed
Unite and GMB say Arriva’s claim of a pay increase of 8.5% isn't factually correct and that they have acually been offered 5% followed by a further 3.5% in October.
Unions say they have a clear mandate from members, and the company's offer does not meet their aspirations, so based on this will not be balloting members on Arriva's current offer.
Mr Roberts added: "We are balloted for 12 weeks. If we need to carry on this dispute, then we’ll carry on this dispute. We’ve haven't got any problem with that but I would expect them to try and resolve this as fast as they can."
COVID’s impact on buses
A recent report to the city region's combined authority transport committee said it is unknown how the area's bus network will fare as COVID-19 financial support ends.
However, a quarterly bus update to the transport committee said current passenger levels are averaging around 80% compared to the equivalent period in 2019.