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