Bus strikes in Sunderland have been suspended while union members consider a new pay deal.
Stagecoach bus drivers in the city were set to strike during the Christmas period in a row over pay. The bus operator said drivers would hold 10 days of strike action in November and December as part of an ongoing pay dispute.
The planned walkouts were set to cause disruption to passengers over the festive season, with drivers set to strike on: November 5, November 15 to 19, December 23 and 24, and December 26 to December 27.
Stagecoach has now confirmed that, following a constructive meeting with the GMB union on Friday, a new pay deal has now been offered.
The union will now put the offer forward to its members to vote on. Whilst this takes place, all planned strike action has been suspended.
Steve Walker, Managing Director for Stagecoach North East, said: "We are pleased to have held constructive talks with GMB today and the union will be taking an offer forward for its members to vote on. On this basis, we are pleased that GMB have agreed to suspend all future strike action planned in Sunderland and we will be able to run our normal service on these days."
The bus drivers have already taken six strike days in anger over what the GMB union is calling "poverty pay". The union said the offer of a four per cent rise, with a further two per cent to follow later in the year, is a "real terms pay cut" to drivers during the cost of living crisis.
GMB union organiser Stuart Gilhespy previously said: "It’s not clear why Stagecoach is punishing loyal drivers like this. They’re making pots of money, but want workers to survive on miserly pay and Dickensian working conditions."
The GMB Union said Stagecoach made an operating profit of £58m in the financial year ending April 2022.
However, Stagecoach said that the figure is "misleading" as it is before other significant costs, including taxation and finance. It said that profits also have to fund investments to benefit customers, and just one new double-decker electric bus costs £450,000.