October could see three days of Stagecoach bus strikes in North Devon after union members voted for industrial action in a row over pay

North Devon bus travellers could be facing disruption in October after Stagecoach South West bus drivers voted to go on strike in a row over pay.

Bus workers' union RMT said today (Friday) it was calling on all its Barnstaple, Exeter and Torquay members to go on strike during three days in October.

If it goes ahead the first will be on Friday, October 13, with another on October 17 and a third on October 30, all running for 24 hours from 4am.

The dispute involves more than 800 bus drivers, cleaners and engineering grades at the Barnstaple, Exeter and Torquay garages.

It is not yet clear how much this will affect North Devon services and Stagecoach has said it will do all it can to minimise disruption.

The RMT says the strikes are due to 'the company's abject failure to address pay and conditions issues'.

It claims the package of 2.5 per cent offered does not keep up with inflation and is essentially a pay cut.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: "Bus workers in the South West provide an essential service across a wide geographical area and they deserve a fair deal on pay.

"RMT negotiators have made every effort in talks to reach a negotiated settlement but the company have come up well short of what our members both expect and deserve for the hard work they put in day in and day out.

"That continued failure to make serious progress is wholly down to the company and has forced us to put on this programme of industrial action in the fight for pay and workplace justice..

"As ever, RMT remains available for serious and meaningful talks."

But Bob Dennison, Stagecoach South West MD said he had been negotiating with the RMT for more than six months to try and agree a deal.

He added: "At every stage, we have been open to alternative approaches to meet members' aspirations. Taking into account the current offer of a 2.5 per cent increase in the headline rate, staff would have seen a total increase in their hourly rate in excess of 10 per cent since May 2015.

"It is therefore extremely disappointing that no agreement has yet been reached and industrial action has now been called, despite members not been given the opportunity to ballot on the various offers made, only on the option of industrial action.

"My priority remains to seek a solution that is in the best interests of our employees, our customers and our business. We will do all we can to minimise disruption to customers and maintain the vital transport links for the community.

"As it stands, less than half of eligible staff have voted in favour of strike action and I am therefore hopeful an agreement can still be reached through continuing dialogue with the RMT."