Washington bus service set up as Go North East strike continues

C4 bus
The C4 service will run for the duration of the strike, which has no end date, CTG has said

An emergency bus service has been set up to "help people out" as Go North East workers continue an indefinite strike over pay.

Private operator City Transport Group (CTG) has started running an hourly service between Washington, Concord and Heworth - three areas with no buses.

Go North East has been unable to run any of its services, except those on school runs, for the past two weeks.

CTG boss Lloyd Jackson said the new service had been "very popular".

The "C4" service, which runs from Monday to Friday, will operate until the strikes are over, for which there is no set end date.

However, it is not covering the exact routes, including stops at Amazon, offered by Go North East.

Lloyd Jackson
Lloyd Jackson said the new service was proving popular with former Go North East passengers

"We saw that with the strikes that are ongoing there were a lot of communities across the North East disconnected and we just thought we'd do something to help people out," Mr Jackson, CTG commercial director, said.

"It's very popular... lots of people, all demographics, people going for work, for leisure, it's going really well."

Union Unite, which has brought the action against Go North East, said the introduction of smaller, independent bus operators to help cover affected areas was a "direct result" of the firm's "intransigence to enter negotiations".

A spokesperson said the strike action was "undermining" Go North East's long-term business model.

The C4 service came as talks again broke down between Go North East and the union.

Go North East says that its pay offer of 10.3% this year, followed by an above-inflation rise next year, is "unprecedented" and would mean staff were paid £14.15 per hour.

However, the union claims the offer will leave workers, who are currently paid £12.83 an hour, on an inferior rate than colleagues at Go North West, who are currently paid £15.53.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham at a Go North East rally in Dunston, Gateshead
Hundreds of striking workers left their picket lines to join the demonstration in Gateshead

On Friday, hundreds of staff from the company's depots including Sunderland, Hexham, Percy Main, Consett and Washington staged a protest outside the main depot in Gateshead.

Unite union boss Sharon Graham said the pay difference was "abhorrent". GNE business director Ben Maxfield previously said the offer was fair.

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