Bus drivers in Weymouth and Bridport in Dorset have begun a five day strike, with their union claiming they are treated as ‘poor relations’ by employer First Group.
More than 110 members of union Unite, the country’s largest union, will stay on strike until 4am on Saturday.
A vintage changing hut / bathing machine in Weymouth
The union acknowledged that the action will cause severe disruption to the travelling public but blamed the company’s management, which it said ‘has been dragging its feet for seven months in pay negotiations’.
It said First Group had rewarded its Bristol drivers with a 13% increase, but was only offering employees in Weymouth 2.3% over two years from August 2015.
The union said the company’s drivers in Yeovil get a higher hourly rate and drivers working for rival firms in Bournemouth and Poole earn nearly £2 an hour more.
Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said: ‘What we have here is a situation where the drivers in Weymouth and Bridport are the poor relations, when compared with the pay of other drivers working for First Group.’
He added: ‘Unite’s door for talks is always open, but the mood of our members is very angry, so the management will have to come to the table with a constructive offer to rectify the pay anomalies, compared with other drivers in the First Group domain.’
First Dorset said an offer to seek resolution through formal arbitration, facilitated by ACAS, had not been taken up by Unite.
The company said it will be operating a service across most of its network throughout the five days and emergency timetables are being published.
Managing director Marc Reddy, said: ‘I'm extremely disappointed Unite has taken the decision to proceed with strike action despite our renewed efforts to bring about a resolution to prevent this regrettable course of action, which is designed to cause maximum disruption to our services and to our customers.
‘However. I can confirm we will be running services on most of our routes during next week. We would ask our customers to be patient with us during this challenging time.’