BUS drivers who began indefinite strike action this week due to a pay dispute staged a protest outside their depot in a bid to force bosses into pledging a better offer.

About 15 Stagecoach employees demonstrated outside the Wakefield Road base having been unable to strike a deal.

The drivers said they would accept the proposed pay rise - which would see their current £10.80 per hour rate go up to £11.40 - but have said they want the rise back paying from last February.

Trade union Unite’s Barnsley branch chairman, Ian Browne, 61, who has worked for Stagecoach for 44 years, said: “It feels like they’re not listening to what we’re saying.

“It just feels like we’re in stalemate - this is the second time we’ve had to see the people of Barnsley without buses so that we can get what we deserve.

“We’re okay with the rise they’ve agreed to - it’s just the back pay we want now.

“It’s not only us losing out now, it’s the people of Barnsley.

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“We want to get back to work to help the good people of Barnsley get where they need to go - but we can’t do that if we’re not getting what we deserve.”

Stagecoach Yorkshire has urged Unite to attend joint talks with arbitration service ACAS, to put an end to ‘unnecessary’ strikes.

The company has so far made six different pay offers, all of which have been declined.

Phil Medlicott, Stagecoach Yorkshire managing director, said: “We recognise the impact that Unite’s actions are having on people locally, and we share people’s frustrations over the damage being caused to local communities and businesses.

“That’s why we remain 100 per cent committed to reaching an agreement with Unite.

“Our staff deserve a good pay rise and that is what we have offered.

“However there needs to be flexibility on both sides and we are hopeful that the talks with ACAS will help to find a way forward in settling this dispute.

“Our teams have done an amazing job during the pandemic, and we very much appreciate everything they have done.

“But at the same time, we have a commitment to continue to protect jobs and ensure that future bus services in Yorkshire remain sustainable for our customers to continue to use.

“We have now reached an agreement with Unite at the vast majority of depots across England, Scotland and Wales, and there is no reason why we cannot reach a sensible and affordable agreement for South Yorkshire.”