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Arriva bus drivers to strike across Kent after walk-outs delayed by Queen's death

Bus passengers must brace themselves for further disruption after drivers announced further strikes.

A total of 600 bus drivers who are employed by Arriva will strike on Friday next week, the Unite union has announced, affecting services across Kent.

The Unite union's general secretary Sharon Graham
The Unite union's general secretary Sharon Graham

The workers are seeking a pay rise in line with the current Retail Price Index inflation rate (RPI), last recorded as 12.3%.

The union says its members have seen their pay continually eroded over the past years in real terms and "enough is enough".

The drivers took an initial day of strike action on Monday, September 5.

Further strikes had been planned for September 16 and September 20, but these were called off as a mark of respect for the Queen.

The Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Arriva and its German parent company Deutsche Bahn are fully able to provide workers with a fair pay rise but have chosen not to do so."

Picketing Arriva drivers during previous strike action
Picketing Arriva drivers during previous strike action

She said: “Unite is solely focussed on defending the jobs, pay and conditions of its members. Our members working for Arriva in Kent will receive the union’s total support.”

The drivers operate from depots in Gillingham, Gravesend, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells

Arriva is owned by Deutsche Bahn, which in turn is effectively owned by the German government.

The union's regional officer Janet Nobbs said: “Fresh bus strikes will inevitably cause further turmoil for passengers throughout Kent but this dispute is entirely of Arriva’s own making.

"Arriva has had every opportunity to return to negotiations and make an improved offer, but it has failed even to contact Unite, to seek a resolution to the dispute.”

Janet Nobbs from Unite
Janet Nobbs from Unite

A spokesman for Arriva said: “We are extremely disappointed for all our customers to confirm that industrial action will take place across the region next Friday.

"We remain committed to resolving the industrial action and continue to encourage Unite to ballot on our latest pay offer.

"We will continue to keep our customers and stakeholders updated. We apologise for the inconvenience this will cause, particularly as our schools have returned for the new academic year.”

Arriva's last offer was just under 10%.

Other bus companies are not affected.

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