300 Stagecoach bus drivers to strike for a further THIRTEEN days across Preston and Chorley

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Hundreds of bus drivers across Preston and Chorley are set to strike for a further 13 days as pay talks broke down yet again.

Some 300 bus drivers from Stagecoach’s Chorley and Preston depots will down tools for a further 13 days in June and July.

The drivers first went on strike for six days in May and early June after pay talks broke down, with a further five organised after these as the dispute continued.

Now, after returning to the negotiation table last week, more pay talks have broken down leading to drivers belonging to the Unite union to return to the picket line for their largest walk out to date.

Drivers will now walk out on June 25 as well as July 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 19, 20, 22, 23, 25, and 27.

This comes on top of the already publicised strike dates of June 22 and 29 as well as July 13 and 16.

When asked why more strike dates had been announced, John Boughton, regional industrial organiser at Unite the Union, said: "It's because the company don't see to understand the strength of feeling of our members.

"At the last meeting they only seemed to be making up in pennies.

"Quite frankly the issue is our members believe they are the poor relation within the company.

"They are earning £1.20 an hour less than some colleagues in other parts of the company.

"Apart from one bus company, they are the lowest paid bus drivers in Lancashire [while] working for the most successful bus company in the country."

Drivers were initially seeking a 50p pay rise from £10.50 to £11 - an increase of 4.8 per cent.

It is believed the offer Stagecoach presented to drivers last week was a three pence rise on the deal already rejected by members in early May.

Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire Managing Director, Rob Jones, said: "We are frustrated with the union’s continued desire for strike action.

"Stagecoach made a good offer to drivers last week and rather than share it with employees, union bosses continue to choose this obstructive and damaging approach which leaves local people at a loss. Their demand for a 4.8 per centpay increase, which equates to 50p, over twelve months is simply unachievable.

"The union has notified us of their intentions to strike across July however we remain hopeful that we can resolve the situation without the need for further action.

"Customers wishing to travel with us on Tuesday, June 25 should check their route in advance.

"We are working around the clock to ensure minimum disruption is caused to service users. Extra staff have been drafted in as support, with all routes operating on a reduced timetable.

“While talks are ongoing, we have a comprehensive contingency plan in place in the event of future strike action and will do everything we can to minimise the impact on our customers.

"We will continue to keep passengers updated on any developments via our website and live Twitter feed.”