Major disruption to Wigan borough bus services as strike is launched - see here for axed borough routes

Bus passengers in Wigan are being urged to check before they travel tomorrow as more than 1,800 staff take industrial action.
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Arriva North West buses has announced that unions have informed the company of their intention to strike from 2am in a dispute over pay.

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There will be no planned Arriva bus services operating within Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire or Cheshire, except for local Macclesfield services. However, transport chiefs have been seeking alternative providers.

Arriva workers will go on strike tomorrowArriva workers will go on strike tomorrow
Arriva workers will go on strike tomorrow
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Before travelling, Arriva has urged all customers to check its Twitter or Facebook pages for more information or call customer services on 0344 800 44 11.

Howard Farrall, North West and 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 across services in the North West from 2am on Wednesday.

"Our people play a hugely important role keeping Merseyside 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 per cent – an increase far higher than most workers are receiving from their employers at a time of considerable economic pressure.”

The firm says bus drivers in Merseyside would receive an hourly rate of £14.67 – but claims unions are refusing to allow this offer to be put to their members in a ballot.

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Mr Farrall said: “It isn’t right that the unions wouldn’t put this latest offer to their own members and allow them to exercise their democratic right to vote. The mandate for strikes arose from a ballot of Unite and GMB members on a previous pay offer, meaning strikes are continuing without the

improved proposal being put to employees by the unions. Strike action is counter-productive, harms the communities and customers we serve and

damages bus travel at a time when we should all be focused on building recovery from the pandemic. We’re calling on Unite and GMB to abandon their plans for this damaging strike and to ballot their members on the new offer.”

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) says it has been seeking alternative providers to operate the routes it financially supports while the industrial action continues in order to mitigate disruption to passengers – and while the majority of these routes have been covered, limited driver availability means not all of these services will be running as planned.

A total of 20 services will not be operating. Those involving Wigan borough are as follows:

No 34: Leigh - Newton le Willows - Crow Lane - St Helens

No 34A: St Helens - Newton le Willows – Leigh

No 320: St Helens - Haydock - Ashton-in-Makerfield - Wigan

No 352: Wigan - Newtown - Pemberton - Orrell - Billinge - St Helens

No 360: Wigan - Abram - Golborne - Newton le Willows - Warrington

No 362: Chorley Town Centre - Coppull - Coppull Moor - Wigan

No 375: Wigan - Skelmersdale - Pennylands - Ormskirk - Southport

No 385: Wigan - Skelmersdale - Pennylands - Ormskirk - Southport

No 395: Wigan - Up Holland - Hall Green - Clay Brow - Skelmersdale

No 575: Bolton - Heaton - Lostock - Horwich - Blackrod - Wigan

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GMB says the pay offers have not met inflation rates and some have been “self-funded” – meaning workers would have to sacrifice other terms to pay for them.

They say 96 per cent of union members voted for strike action.

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.

“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.”

Those with Arriva tickets of seven days or more, that were purchased and activated before the date of the strike, will also be able to use their ticket on selected Metrolink lines during this period.

TfGM’s Head of Customer Experience, Sean Dyball, said: “We understand the concern passengers will have and we want to reassure them that we’re working closely with the operator to limit the disruption as much as possible.

“Unfortunately, due to current conditions and staff absences, we have not been able to secure replacements for all routes. Where we can, we have worked to prioritise routes with no or limited alternative transport options.

“We have travel information available on our website to help people make informed journey choices and to cycle or walk where possible, especially for shorter trips.“

Dedicated travel information pages, containing full information about the services and alternative options, are available on the TfGM website.