THERE were scenes of solidarity as dozens of bus drivers and staff were seen on strike as they demanded to be paid the same as colleagues along the road.

Drivers were seen outside depots at Stagecoach North East in Hartlepool and Stockton on day one of industrial action on Monday.

It comes as Unite the Union claims drivers on Teesside are being offered less money to do the same job as workers in Tyne & Wear.

Read more: Fury as bus drivers paid '£1 an hour less' than colleagues 20 miles along the road

Stagecoach North East is facing twelve days of disruption after drivers, engineers and other staff voted in favour of striking.

'Bus workers deserve far better'

Sharon Graham, general secretary at Unite, said: “Bus workers deserve far better than low pay and below inflation pay offers.

“In recent weeks Unite members employed by Stagecoach throughout the UK have been drawing a line in the sand, demanding and winning decent pay deals.”

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Drivers are calling on the company to increase its offer Picture: UNITE THE UNION/NORTHERN ECHO

Before the weekend, Labour MP for Stockton North Alex Cunningham defended the decision to strike and criticised the decision to pay workers on Teesside less.

He said: “I’m appalled that bus drivers on Teesside earn less than their counterparts on Tyneside for doing the same job.

"There’s simply no good reason for that, nor the refusal of Stagecoach to negotiate pay on an equal footing."

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Mr Cunningham said Stagecoach bosses had refused to negotiate pay equally, instead carrying out talks on a depot-by-depot basis.

He said that this means a bus driver on Tyneside is being offered a 5.7 percent increase (from £11.60 per hour up to £12.26 per hour) whereas one on Teesside is only being offered a 3.7 percent increase (£11.12 per hour up from £10.72).

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Drivers will stage industrial action on numerous days over the next several weeks Picture: UNITE THE UNION/NORTHERN ECHO

Steve Walker, managing director for Stagecoach North East, said: “Employees at South Shields have accepted a pay deal today and proposals have also been agreed in Sunderland. In addition, we are in constructive discussions with Unite about a pay deal for our employees in Newcastle.

Read more: Go North East drivers in County Durham and Tyne & Wear could end up on strike

“In view of the clear progress that we have made in a number of depots in the north east, we are disappointed that Unite is continuing with plans for strike action in Teesside.

“Stagecoach has reached agreements with trade unions in the vast majority of other depots across the country and we remain open to continuing discussions with Unite. We would urge them to call off this unnecessary action which will cause untold inconvenience to local communities, and will hit the pockets of our employees and their families.”

The strikes are being held on November 8, 10, 12, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26 and 30 and December 2 and 4.