AN indefinite strike that has shut down Go North East bus services across the region is set to enter its second week.

Workers at the public transport operator began a continuous walkout last Saturday (October 28), after rejecting the employer’s latest pay offer.

The ongoing industrial action has left passengers across the area facing a huge headache, with the impact described as “appalling” for communities reliant on Go North East routes, and is set to impact fans travelling to Newcastle United’s home game against Arsenal this weekend. 

There are now renewed calls for bosses at the bus company and the Unite union to get back around the negotiating table and find a resolution to the crippling strike.

A group of Labour MPs has written to Go North East, pleading for a deal to be struck.

The letter – signed by Julie Elliot, Ian Mearns, Mary Glindon, Liz Twist, Kate Osborne, Grahame Morris, Ian Lavery, Emma Lewell-Buck, Sharon Hodgson, and Mary Kelly Foy – said: “Many of your workers are also our constituents and they do not take the decision to strike lightly, particularly in the middle of a cost of living crisis.

“The responsibility is on Go North East to resolve this dispute immediately, you have a duty to consider people who rely on your bus services and to ensure your workforce can afford to live.”

Go North East had offered staff a 10.3 per cent pay rise, plus a guaranteed above-inflation pay increase next year too, but that was rejected by 81 per cent of workers who took part in a Unite ballot.

The union had been pressing for a 13 per cent increase, but has also complained that drivers at Go North West currently earn an hourly wage more than 20 per cent higher than their North East counterparts.

Unite regional officer Mark Sanderson added: “This strike is all of Go North East’s making. They could come back to the table with an offer that addresses the current low pay at Go North East, but its refusal to do so speaks volumes about the low esteem they hold the people of the North East in.”

In a document released on Go North East’s website earlier this week, business director Ben Maxfield claimed that meeting the union’s current demands would cost a “simply unrealistic” £1.5m per year and “would lead to loss of bus routes, a reduction in the number of drivers required, and poorer services all round”.

He added: “I am deeply concerned for passengers across the region who now face massive and unnecessary disruption to their daily lives as a result of Unite’s strike. All we can ask is that the public bears with us as we try to provide a stripped-down service over the course of the strike.”

Go North East has said that it will not be able to run any services at all on strike days, aside from contracted school buses.