Manchester and Merseyside routes affected by industrial action from 20 July

UPDATE: Strikes continue on Arriva services as no resolution has been reached in the dispute (1 August). Arriva has stated:

"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."

Confidentials is awaiting a statement from Unite or GMB.

Arriva bus workers across Merseyside, Manchester and Cheshire began strikes from Wednesday 20 July as an agreement has not been reached between the bus company and unions GMB and Unite.

Arriva will be unable to operate bus services in Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Lancashire or Cheshire during the industrial action.

Hopefully the company will listen and get back around the table with a fair offer

Arriva bus drivers and support staff are slated to begin strike action from 2am, affecting depots at Birkenhead, Bolton, Bootle, Liverpool, Macclesfield, Wythenshawe, Runcorn, Southport, Speke, St Helens, and Winsford.

Around 1800 workers returned a 96 percent vote in favour of strike action. Turnout was 72 percent.

Real terms pay cut

Unite says its members are striking over a "pitiful" pay offer from the German-owned transport giant of three percent with no strings attached, or six percent which included reductions in sick pay and loss of Saturday enhanced pay. Both the offers are below the current real inflation rate of 11.7 percent.

Pay rates for bus drivers differ between the various depots but, as an example, drivers at Winsford are paid just over £11 an hour.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This dispute is entirely of Arriva’s own making. It can fully afford to ensure its workers receive decent pay and conditions. Instead, Arriva has made our members a pitiful offer. Not only do they want workers to accept a real terms pay cut, they also want them to sacrifice their sick pay. This is just not acceptable.

“Unite will back these members to the hilt until this dispute is resolved and they receive a decent pay increase.”

A strike by Stagecoach scheduled for the same day was averted when that bus company and Unite came to an agreement over pay, including a pay increase to £14 an hour for drivers. 

2019 10 09 Empty Bus
Passengers are urged to find alternatives Image: Confidentials

Robbie Marnell, GMB regional organiser, said: “No worker should be struggling to cover their bills. But in the face of a cost of living crisis, Arriva needs to get real on its pay offers. 

“Members have had enough after going the extra mile during COVID - working through the dangers of the pandemic - and now getting scant reward. 

“The overwhelming strike mandate shows workers' take on the miserly offer clearly. We have our deckchairs ready for the pickets. 

“Hopefully the company will listen and get back around the table with a fair offer.” 

Arriva Bus In Liverpool
An Arriva service in Liverpool Image: WikiCommons

A spokesperson for Arriva Buses said: “We are deeply disappointed by this totally unjustified strike action.

“We urge Unite and GMB to work with us to agree a way forward, rather than moving the goalposts on a previously recommended pay deal which met the Union’s aspirations for their members.”

Howard Farrall, North West and Wales Area operating director for Arriva commented: "Strike action is counter-productive, harms the communities and customers we serve, and damages bus travel at a time when we should all be focused on building recovery from the pandemic. We’re calling on Unite and GMB to abandon their plans for this damaging strike and to ballot their members on the new offer."

Alternative arrangements

For the duration of the industrial action, journey planning in the North West region on the Arriva website and the Arriva UK Bus App will be disabled.

Arriva customers with pre-paid tickets travelling in Cheshire will be able to use them on buses operated by D&G Buses, visit for service details. Wales services and services running out of Chester depot and into Chester from Wrexham and Rhyl are unaffected and will continue to operate. All Macclesfield services will run except the 38.

The special Liverpool Clatterbridge Hospital Shuttle service will also continue to operate during this time. All customers holding a pre-paid ticket which is valid on a strike day will be able to receive credit from Arriva.

The Arriva strike currently has no confirmed end date. Customers are being urged to make alternative travel arrangements.

Bus services provided by other operators are expected to be operating as normal.

Check @arrivanorthwest for further updates.

Read next: Andy Burnham announces cheaper bus tickets from September

Read again: Andy Burnham sets out a 'new era' for public transport in Greater Manchester

Get the latest news to your inbox

Get the latest food & drink news and exclusive offers by email by signing up to our mailing list. This is one of the ways that Confidentials remains free to our readers and by signing up you help support our high quality, impartial and knowledgable writers. Thank you!