ARRIVA bus drivers on Wirral and across the northwest are entering a third week of strike action in a dispute over pay.

Around 1,800 workers for the bus operator returned a 96% yes vote in favour of the industrial action that began on Wednesday, July 20. The action is in response to what union bosses have called a "pitiful" pay offer.

At the start, it was warned that the strike could go on "indefinitely".

Talks between Arriva and the Unite and GMB unions broke down yesterday.

An Arriva statement read: "We are extremely disappointed that despite further negotiations today with Unite and GMB and a very generous improved offer, the Unions have once again walked away without even agreeing to put our offer to their members.

"This means we continue to face ongoing strike action across the North West region, causing continued misery for passengers.

"We have worked tirelessly to reach an agreement on a way forward, today making an offer that would have seen our drivers being the highest paid in the region, with no changes to current employee benefits and a lump sum of backdated pay to April 1, 2022.

"Our customers will share our frustration at the Unions’ unreasonable stance. We are seeking to engage ACAS to help bring a resolution to this situation and we urge Unite and GMB to immediately reconsider their position, call an end to strike action and give their members the opportunity to ballot on our generous pay rise."

Unite regional officer Dave Roberts said: “Arriva statement is heavy on distortions and light on facts.

“Talks were unsuccessful to progress as Arriva failed to place any new money on the table. Until Arriva is prepared to increase its offer then further talks either directly with Arriva or brokered by Acas, will not progress.”

“Rather than enraging passengers with misleading statements, Arriva needs to make a genuinely improved offer and return to the negotiating table.”

Speaking on behalf of striking colleagues on day one of the strike, one driver, who asked not to be named, told the Globe: "We're striking because we're all struggling to pay for our bills, that's the top-and-bottom of it. The offers weren't very good.

"Just getting to work is dear. The drivers come from everywhere; some from Chester, Ellesmere Port and Liverpool - and that's just to this depot. People like working at this depot.

"Everyone's happy here, we don't want to be standing outside the depot striking.

"We'd rather be driving buses. We also don't want to let the public down.

"We've seen people have to walk past today, walking their kids, when they would normally get the bus. It's rubbish."

During the industrial action there will be no planned Arriva bus services operating within Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Lancashire or Cheshire, except for local Macclesfield services which will all run with the exception of service 38.