ARRIVA bus drivers in St Helens and across the northwest are set to continue with strike action after talks aimed at settling a pay dispute broke down again today.

Around 1,800 workers for the bus operator returned a 96% yes vote in favour of the industrial action that began on Wednesday, July 20. The action is in response to what union bosses have called a "pitiful" pay offer.

At the start, it was warned that the strike could go on "indefinitely".

A Unite spokesperson said this afternoon: "Talks again broke down today as Arriva failed to make an offer which met members' expectations."

An Arriva statement read: "Despite further negotiations today and having done all we can to make another improved offer, the Unions have once again chosen to walk away, causing further misery for our passengers.

"At this point, we are left questioning why they refuse to give their members the opportunity to vote on our offers, which would make our drivers the highest paid in the region.

"We would like to apologise to our passengers for the ongoing disruption that this dispute is causing to their everyday lives.

"On our side, we are acting in good faith and doing all we can to find a resolution. We urge Unite and GMB to do the same, reconsider their position, call an end to inappropriate strike action and give their members the opportunity to ballot on our latest offers."

Unite regional officer Dave Roberts said: “Arriva statement is heavy on distortions and light on facts.

“Talks were unsuccessful to progress as Arriva failed to place any new money on the table. Until Arriva is prepared to increase its offer then further talks either directly with Arriva or brokered by Acas, will not progress.”

“Rather than enraging passengers with misleading statements, Arriva needs to make a genuinely improved offer and return to the negotiating table.”

During the industrial action there will be no planned Arriva bus services operating within Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Lancashire or Cheshire, except for local Macclesfield services which will all run with the exception of service 38.