Dorset First bus drivers strike over pay dispute

Bus depot picket line
Image caption The offer would increase drivers pay to £8.50 an hour

Bus drivers in Dorset have walked out for 24 hours in a dispute over pay.

Up to 60 First Hampshire and Dorset drivers began strike action at 04:30 GMT on Monday.

The Unite union said drivers were unhappy about a proposed pay increase of 1.5%, which it said would leave them worse off than other Dorset bus drivers.

First Hampshire and Dorset's Marc Reddy said the offer had been "accepted favourably" by other staff in Dorset.

The firm said nearly every service was running as normal, including school routes.

'Months of discussions'

A Unite spokesman said the drivers currently earn £8.30 an hour, compared with their regional colleagues, who earn more than £10 an hour.

He added that the management's offer would raise pay to £8.50 an hour.

Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said it was the first time its members had gone on strike in 12 years.

He said the union regretted any disruption the strike may cause in the Bridport, Portland and Weymouth areas and added it was prepared to talk if there was "genuine 'new' money on the table".

Mr Reddy, managing director at First Hampshire and Dorset, said the industrial action had come after "several months of discussions" about pay.

He added the company had "put forward various options" and the proposed pay rise had already been "accepted favourably" by other employees in Dorset.

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