First Dorset bus drivers start five-day strike in pay row
A five-day strike by Dorset bus drivers has started in a row over pay.
More than 110 First Dorset drivers, based in Weymouth and Bridport, started the walkout at 04:00 BST and will not return to work until the early hours of Saturday.
Union Unite said its members were angry at a 2.3% pay offer from First Group, while drivers for the firm in Bristol had been given a 13% increase.
The operator has described the action as "totally unnecessary".
Services are running on an emergency timetable during the action.
Last ditch talks to resolve the dispute failed last week.
Unite said Weymouth and Bridport drivers earn £8.80 an hour, while drivers in Yeovil are on £9.50 an hour and those at rival firms in Bournemouth and Poole earn nearly £2 an hour more.
The union said: "We appreciate that the dispute will inconvenience the travelling public, but the ball is firmly in the management's court as they have steadfastly refused to rectify the pay inequality of our members over many years, compared with other First Group drivers across the West Country."
First Dorset said it was "disappointed" strike action was going ahead "despite our best efforts to try to reach a formal settlement".
A spokeswoman said: "First Dorset sets the pay rate irrespective of what the other companies are offering their staff.
"They are not set nationally - they are agreed locally between the local operating company and local union representatives."