ARRIVA bus drivers are threatening to walk out and strike and deepen south Essex’s summer of transport chaos.
Eight hundred Unite members employed as bus drivers by Arriva across Essex and Kent will vote on potential strike action after rejecting a 7.8 per cent pay rise offer.
The news comes as south Essex’s rail firms fall into chaos, with RMT and ASLEF unions holding strikes today, this Saturday and threatening more in August.
Arriva bosses described the offer as “generous,” but union representatives say the bus firm is “prioritising paying shareholders over decent wages for workers”.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Arriva is fabulously wealthy and can fully afford to make our members a decent pay offer. The company is prioritising paying dividends to shareholders over decent wages for workers.
“Unite will provide its members with the union’s total support until a pay offer which meets members’ expectations is made, which would resolve the dispute.
“Strike action could still be avoided if the company returns to the negotiating table and makes an improved offer.”
Arriva is owned by German company Deutsche Bahn – one of the world’s largest transport companies.
“In the last 10 years Deutsche Bahn has made profits of £5.9 billion,” a union spokesman said.
“During that time it has made profits of £560 million from running UK buses.”
The firm has offered a 7.8 per cent pay increase, described as “a substantial pay cut” by Unite, with the real inflation rate currently standing at 11.8 per cent.
The bus drivers currently earn as little as £12.12 an hour, the Union said.
The ballot closes on Friday 12 August and if the workers vote for industrial action then strikes could begin before the end of next month.
An Arriva spokesman said: “Our people play a hugely important role keeping communities moving and they fully deserve a pay rise – especially with the cost-of-living increasing so much.
“It’s why, despite the significant pressures on the bus sector with increasing costs and passenger numbers still at below pre-pandemic levels, we have offered our people a generous pay rises that is far higher than most workers are receiving from their employers at a time of considerable economic pressure.”
The ballot closes on August 12 and if the workers vote for industrial action, strikes could begin before the end of next month.