Dorset

Dorset bus drivers to strike for five days

First Group bus Image copyright First Group
Image caption The operator said contingency plans were being put in place but urged the union to "get back round the table"

Passengers are facing disruption as bus drivers in Dorset prepare to stage a five-day strike over "poverty" wages.

More than 110 members of the Unite union, based in Weymouth and Bridport, are set to walk out from 04:00 on Monday until 03:59 BST on Saturday.

Unite said it is angry at a 2.3% pay offer from First Group while it says drivers for the firm in Bristol have been given a 13% increase.

The operator said the action was "totally unnecessary".

'Pushed against the wall'

The union says 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.

Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said: "What we have here is a situation where the drivers in Weymouth and Poole are the poor relations, when compared with the pay of other drivers working for First Group.

"Our members regret the disruption to the public that will be caused by this strike, but they have been pushed against the wall with years of insulting pay increases for the responsible job that they do."

First Dorset, which is part of the First Group, said it had been in discussions with Unite for several months and an offer to use resolution service Acas is still on the table.

Marc Reddy, managing director of First Dorset, said: "This action is totally unnecessary and will cause great hardship to our customers who rely on our services daily to get them to work, to school or college, to attend hospital and doctors' appointments or job interviews."

The operator said contingency plans were being put in place but urged the union to "get back round the table".

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