Dates that Arriva bus drivers and engineers in Northumberland will strike are confirmed by Unite

Unite has announced the dates that bus drivers and engineers will walk out after workers at Arriva’s Blyth and Ashington depots voted to strike in a ballot this month.
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More than 300 members of the trade union were balloted between March 5 and 19 in the dispute over pay and Unite has announced they will strike for one week from Sunday, April 7, and for a second week from Sunday, April 21, impacting services across Northumberland.

Unite regional officer Dave Telford said: “This strike demonstrates the strength of ill-feeling at Arriva over the poor pay offer they have offered our members when energy bills and mortgages have gone through the roof. Unite will be backing them 100%.”

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The routes from the Ashington depot where service will be impacted by strikes are the 1, 2, 35, 43, 44, 45, 57, 434, 777, X14, X15, X16, X18, X20, X21, and X22.

Two week-long strikes have been announced by Unite. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)Two week-long strikes have been announced by Unite. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Two week-long strikes have been announced by Unite. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Blyth based services that will be impacted are the X10, X11, X7, X8, X9, 306, 308, 47, and 553.

One driver, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Northumberland Gazette that low pay relative to other companies had left Arriva with a shortage of drivers in Northumberland, with the Ashington base more than 20 drivers short, which was leading to cancelled services.

They said: “There might be one or two that break down, but [buses] are not turning up because we have not got the drivers to fulfil the shifts.

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“They are increasing our working week, reducing our break periods from driving, and putting more pressure on the drivers.”

The driver added that in addition to experienced drivers leaving for other companies, recently trained drivers are leaving to work in other industries with more sociable hours, less responsibility, and similar pay, as current wages are “not attracting them in or getting them to stay.”

They also called for government efforts to recruit more bus drivers, similar to the schemes implemented for recruiting HGV drivers in 2021.

Despite Arriva’s driver shortage the company continues to take on contracts for new bus routes, with two new Saturday services set to begin in Northumberland this month.

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The union said Arriva drivers currently earn £14.15 per hour, the lowest paid out of the three main operators in the North East, while Stagecoach drivers will be on £15.01 per hour from May and Go North East drivers will be on £14.83 per hour from July.

Arriva had offered workers a four percent pay increase, but this was rejected by the union.

The company, based in Sunderland, is currently owned by German transport giant Deutsche Bahn but is due to be sold imminently to investment firm I Squared Capital.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Arriva is behaving appallingly given it made millions off the backs of our members and is about to be sold off to a Miami-based private equity firm.

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“This employer does not care about its workforce and its overseas owners do not care about the communities in the North East.

“Without our members there is no bus company and their pay and conditions must reflect the hard work they put in day in and day out.”

A spokesperson for Arriva North East said: “Arriva will continue to work with Unite and try our best to find the most appropriate resolution.”