First Dorset bus drivers in new seven-day walkout

Image caption Drivers have been picketing the entrance to the First Dorset office in Weymouth

Bus drivers in Dorset who are locked in a dispute over wages are to strike for seven continuous days from Monday.

More than 110 members of the Unite union in Weymouth and Bridport are unhappy they are paid less than drivers in Yeovil, Bournemouth and Poole.

First Dorset said it had received notice from Unite that staff would walk out on Monday.

It said all other forthcoming industrial action had been suspended.

A spokesman said a "technical error" made by the union when giving notice of the strike had meant 23 dates previously announced would not go ahead.

'Open arms'

It said receipt of a new notification meant the industrial action would resume on Monday 8 August.

First Dorset managing director Marc Reddy said: "We remain deeply frustrated at the union's unwillingness to go to formal arbitration at ACAS as a means of resolving this dispute.

"This is the only sensible way forward, giving them the opportunity to set out their case for an enhanced pay offer, over and above the 2.3% deal over two years that we've offered, to an independent person, who will then rule on what they've heard from both sides."

Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said: "Unite has never been against talks under the auspices of the conciliation service, ACAS. We welcome such genuine talks with open arms.

Mr Lanning said the "sticking point" was that management wanted any agreement to be binding and not put to a vote by drivers.

He said the company had "refused to recognise that their drivers are the lowest paid of all First Group drivers in England".

"It is not unreasonable that Unite, as a trade union, would wish to rectify this glaring inequality," he added.

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