Workers in the North East argue that those in the North West earn more than them, prompting pay disputes and walkouts, over the last month.
Two-week strikes had already been staged however a continuous walkout began on 28 October. Negotiations on 6 November between Go North and Unite ended after 4 hours, with Unite walking out.
Unite have demanded for a pay increase every six months, starting with a 13% increase to drivers’ wages. In July last year, Go North East increased their drivers’ pay by 10%. Combined with their latest offer of a 10.3% increase, drivers will have had a 20% pay rise in just over a year.
Go North East claim that this new pay offer would make the drivers the best-paid in the region, with those working a 41-hour week on track to earn £30,000 per year. Unite has recommended that its workers reject this pay offer.
Whilst the strikes continue, the bus company has pledged to operate more than 80 buses this week, prioritising journeys covering vital school, hospital, and works services.
These services include school buses in Durham, the NHS Hopper carrying hospital staff between the RVI and Freeman hospitals, and the 327 linking Newcastle city centre and DFDS ferry terminal.
Office workers and managers with bus driving licenses have been filling the place of striking workers during this time.
Go North East business director, Ben Maxfield, stated “our responsibility is to put the best possible offer on the table to try to prevent a strike. This is what we have done.”
Depots affected are Consett, Gateshead, Hexham, Percy Main, Sunderland, and Washington. During this disruption, Go North East season tickets will be accepted on Metro services, as well as Arriva and Stagecoach North East bus services.