Newcastle and Northumberland facing Arriva bus strikes

Arriva bus workers working in Newcastle and Northumberland balloted for strike action over pay cut

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Bus workers employed by Arriva working in Newcastle and Northumberland are being balloted for strike action in a dispute over pay.

The dispute involves 330 drivers and engineers who are members of Unite. The workers have been offered a pay increase worth 10 per cent (paid in two stages) for the drivers on the highest pay rate, with other workers receiving considerably lower pay offers. These are a substantial real terms pay cuts, as the current real rate of inflation (RPI) stands at 13.4 per cent.

The ballot opened this week and closes on Thursday 30 March. If the workers vote in favour of industrial action than strikes could begin after Easter.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Arriva is an incredibly wealthy company which for years has been funnelling profits out of the UK economy to its German owners. It can fully afford to pay our members a fair pay increase but has chosen not to.

“Unite is totally focussed on the jobs, pay and conditions of all its members and the workers at Arriva will receive the union’s absolute support.”

The industrial dispute effects drivers and engineers based at the Ashington, Blyth and Walkergate (Newcastle) depots.

The rate for a qualified driver is just £12.65 an hour. There are a growing number of vacancies of both drivers and engineers as Arriva struggles to attract people willing to undertake the work.

Arriva is owned by Deutsche Bahn, one of the largest transport companies in the world and effectively owned by the German government. In the last 10 years, Arriva’s UK bus division has paid £560 million to Deutsche Bahn in Germany in profit transfers.

Over the last decade, Deutsche Bahn has paid dividends of £5 billion to the German government.

Unite regional officer Dave Telford added, “Strike action will cause huge disruption across Newcastle and Northumberland this spring but the dispute is entirely of Arriva’s own making. It has had every opportunity to make an offer which meets members’ expectations but has failed to do so.

“Arriva needs to return to the negotiating table with a realistic offer.”

By Barckley Sumner