BUS passengers in Barnsley face severe disruption from tomorrow as drivers employed by Stagecoach announced they will take immediate strike action over a pay dispute.

More than 560 workers voted in favour of action in response to the company ‘failing to make a realistic pay offer’.

The strikes were called after members rejected the latest offer from the operator’s management following extensive negotiations with trade union Unite.

Stagecoach offered its Barnsley workers a 4.5 per cent hike, compared to pay deals secured by Unite in other areas of the country of 6.5 per cent, 7.5 per cent and even 10.5 per cent.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Members are taking action over Stagecoach’s penny-pinching as low pay is the scourge of the bus industry.

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“Unite is pledged to fight for the jobs pay and conditions of our members so we will be relentless in the campaign to ensure that our members at Stagecoach get a fair deal.”

Strike action will take place in Barnsley each day from tomorrow until next Friday following a ballot, which took place between October 21 and November 8.

Unite regional officer Phil Bown added: “Bus workers were rightly hailed as heroes during successive lockdowns.

“However, warm words do not pay the bills and Stagecoach needs to reward its workers’ dedication with a decent pay award.

“Our members are the lowest-paid bus workers in the region.

“If passengers face serious disruption, it will be entirely Stagecoach’s fault.”

It comes after Stagecoach axed dozens of bus services across Barnsley at the end of last month due to ‘driver shortages’.

Phil Medlicott, managing director for Stagecoach Yorkshire, said: “We’re extremely sorry that the action being taken by Unite means that we are unable to run any bus services for a week.

“We know that our employees deserve a good pay rise and we have left no stone unturned in our attempts to reach a settlement with Unite by offering employees an increase to the hourly pay rate of 4.5 per cent.

“Despite the positive and flexible approach we have taken in talks with the union, it’s very disappointing that this has progressed to strike action which is in nobody’s interests.

“We remain open to continuing discussions with the union and would urge them to call off this unnecessary action which will cause untold inconvenience to local communities and will hit the pockets of our employees and their families.

“Stagecoach has reached agreements with Unite in many other parts of the country and there is no reason why an agreement cannot be reached here.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this uncertainty and we assure you we have been working tirelessly in an effort to avoid such disruption.”