MORE than 650 bus workers employed by Arriva in Yorkshire are being balloted for strike action in a dispute over low pay, a move that could cause transport disruption across the region. 

The dispute is a result of Arriva offering a pay increase of 4.1 per cent, which is less than half of the real inflation rate (RPI) of nine per cent.

The strike will involve Arriva workers, including bus drivers and engineers, based at depots in Dewsbury, Heckmondwike, Castleford, Selby and Wakefield.

Union representatives say that many of the company’s bus drivers are struggling to make ends meet as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.

New starters are on just £9.78 an hour, just 28p an hour above the minimum wage.

The ballot opened this week and will close on Monday, May 23.

If workers vote in favour of industrial action then strikes could begin in early June.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This offer is a pay cut and is unacceptable to Unite.

“Arriva has to think again and come back with an offer that fully reflects this cost of living crisis.

“Unite is totally dedicated to defending and improving our members' jobs, pay and conditions.

“Our Arriva members have the full support of their union in this fight to secure a decent pay deal.”

Strike action will cause severe disruption to bus services across North and West Yorkshire.

Unite regional officer Phil Bown said: “Strike action will inevitably cause severe disruption to bus passengers across Yorkshire but this dispute is entirely of Arriva’s own making as workers are not prepared to accept poverty pay rates any longer.

“Disruption can be avoided if Arriva makes a pay offer which meets members’ expectations.”

Gavin Peace, Area Operations Director for Arriva Yorkshire, said: “While we fully understand concerns about the rising cost of living that workers are facing throughout the UK, it is important that pay offers are affordable and reflect the economic pressures the bus sector also faces at this time.

“Any strike action would needlessly undermine bus travel and cause disruption to the customers and communities we serve.

“We remain keen to reach an agreement with Unite and continue to work towards this.

“We are aware that the union wish to continue discussion and would encourage them to work with us to find a way forward.”