THE devastating Go North East bus strike is finally over, after weeks of public transport misery that has hit millions of journeys.

Staff at the major bus operator have voted to accept a new pay deal that was struck earlier this week, following seven weeks of strike action in the past two months that has shut down services across the region.

The Unite union confirmed on Friday lunchtime that its 1,300 members had decided to take an 11.2 per cent pay increase offer that was tabled by Go North East during negotiations on Monday, following a ballot held over recent days.

That result will come as a huge relief to passengers who have been left stranded during the bitter industrial dispute.

Normal service is now set to resume on Saturday across Go North East routes, which usually carry an estimated 175,000 people every day.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Go North East workers should be congratulated on their victory for better pay. They stood together in unity until their employer returned to negotiations and made an improved offer. Make no mistake, Unite is here to fight for workers, I will do whatever is needed to help workers secure good pay deals, that commitment has been clearly demonstrated during this dispute.

“Unite the union keeps winning across the passenger transport sector and securing better pay for our members.”

Friday’s resolution comes at the end of the union’s fifth consecutive week of strike action, which followed two previous seven-day walkouts in October.

The industrial action has crippled the vast majority of Go North East’s services and prompted widespread concerns over people being stuck at home, unable to get to work, education, or medical appointments.

The enormous impact has been keenly felt across the region, but particularly in areas such as Washington and Houghton-le-Spring that are heavily reliant on Go North East routes.

In a previous ballot, Unite members overwhelmingly rejected a 10.3 per cent pay rise offer from the company. Go North East had insisted that was a “fair deal” that would have made its drivers the best-paid in the region.

The union had been calling for a pay 13 per cent increase, but has also complained that bus drivers at Go North West currently earn an average hourly wage that is more than £5,000-a-year higher than their North East counterparts.

More to follow.