Arbitrators should be brought in if bus strike isn't resolved this week, mayor says
Arbitrators should be brought in to end the continuing bus strikes if no deal is reached by the end of the week, the West Midlands Mayor has said.
Andy Street has called for the row between National Express West Midlands and Unite to come to a "fair conclusion" amid indefinite strike action.
It comes after crunch talks were said to be taking place today to resolve the dispute after the majority of bus drivers rejected a 14.3 per cent pay rise over the weekend, prompting the strike action this week.
The walkout by more than 3,100 members has impacted around 93 per cent of the network with only vital services running to hospitals in the region.
And tensions are continuing to escalate between the parties with suggestions of "union busting" and buses being blocked by protestors in recent days.
Mr Street, who described the offer proposed to the union as "very good", said: "We're now seeing the situation escalate on picket lines with police having to get involved. That is deeply depressing and underlines why a fair deal has to be struck.
"These strikes are causing misery for hundreds of thousands of passengers who are being stopped from getting to work, to education. With that in mind it is now clear that if a deal isn't done by the end of the week then an independent, non-political arbitrator needs to be brought in.
"It shouldn't have to come to arbitration, but if both sides are unable to put passengers first and bring these strikes to a fair conclusion then that is what must happen.
"Transport for West Midlands are continuing to issue travel advice and do all they can to keep our transport network moving, but really this is now all down to National Express and Unite to do a deal or accept arbitration."