THERE will be no Arriva bus services in Wirral today as bus drivers start a fresh wave of strike action in the run-up to Christmas.

More than 2,000 bus drivers and engineering staff will also walk out for 24-hours this Thursday and December 12, 13, 14, 20, 21, 22 and 23.

The action comes after talks to avert more bus strikes broke down after Arriva North West's offer of an increase of a penny to the hourly rate that was rejected by the GMB union, who described the proposed rise as ‘a kick in the teeth’ for its members.

Commenting on the unions' rejection of the pay offer Phil Stone, managing director for Arriva North West, said: "We are deeply disappointed that people in Merseyside and the wider North West are facing yet more disruption in the run-up to Christmas.

“The offer follows years of consecutive pay rises above inflation at a time of significant pay restraint across other industries in the region.

“To put this into context, we have increased pay for our drivers by 10.2% over four years.

"This latest pay offer will mean an average driver will earn an additional £756 per annum.

"An extended strike in the run- up to Christmas will have a serious impact on people’s lives and the local economy.

"We, therefore, urge the Union to reconsider re- solving this dispute by carrying out a confidential postal ballot of all union members, including the 250 engineering staff not previ- ously included in the ballot for the new pay offer.

"We also strongly suggest, in the interests of staff and passengers, of returning to ACAS to act as the mediator going forward."

GMB Organiser Eddie Parker said: "A pay increase of just one pence per hour is nothing more than a kick in the teeth to our hard-working members who keep the North West moving every day.

"Instead of sitting back, trousering their massive salaries, Arriva’s top brass need to stop and think about the wellbeing of their staff, and how the people in the North West are going to get to work every day."