Arriva bus drivers in North Wales have suspended their strike while they consider an improved pay offer after striking for four days. Ben Alofs reports
On Sunday 14 November 2021 Arriva bus drivers in North Wales went on strike for better pay.
I went to see them on Monday at the picket line outside the bus depot in Bangor. One of the spokes people of the strike representing Unite told me that the decision to go on strike was one of last resort.
Arriva bosses had offered a pay increase of 29 p/hr, bringing the hourly rate up to £12.00/hr, but this was rejected by the bus drivers. They told me that they are doing the same work as bus drivers in the North West, but drivers there were offered a 39p increase. At present the difference in hourly rate between the North West and North Wales is £1.80 and the strikers told me that over time they want to see this pay differential closed.
Being a bus driver used to be a relatively well-paid job, but remuneration has over the years fallen down the table and the cost of living, especially now with the increase of fuel prices, is going up relentlessly.
One driver told me that the stress associated with the job has gone up. Bus drivers are responsible for transporting people safely, but in the past months many have experienced increasing levels of abuse, particularly with regards to wearing masks on public transport.
The poor pay offer by the bus company was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the workers decided to go on strike.
They are prepared to stay on strike until 19 December, but on Thursday, day 4 of the strike, the Arriva bus company has come with an improved pay offer, which would see the annual salary of a bus driver go up by £1,251. Unite has decided to suspend strike action while it ballots its members about the improved pay offer.
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