BUS services around Weymouth, Portland and west Dorset could be crippled next week due to a drivers’ strike.

Members of the Unite union who work for the area’s main bus provider, First, are planning a 24-hour walkout on Monday, January 20 due to a row over pay.

It will affect the Weymouth and Bridport depots.

A First spokesman said it was hoped to run as many buses as possible and that services will run on most routes.

But one driver said that although school and colleges services would be provided, other passenger routes would be severely hit.

“It’s going to be absolute murder,” he said.

“We don’t want to do it but we have been forced into action.

“Our pay is well below those who work at the Yeovil depot which we think is unfair.”

The driver claimed the company had offered a small amount of extra money but claimed that holidays would be affected by the deal.

He said the action would begin early on Monday and continue for 24 hours. Picket lines will be in place at the depots.

No-one from Unite was available for comment.

Managing director for First Hampshire and Dorset Marc Reddy said: “We are very disappointed that our drivers have seen fit to take industrial action.

“This has come after several months of discussions about pay with local union representatives when we put forward various options to them during the talks.

“The 1.5 per cent pay rise we have offered them has already been accepted favourably by our other employees in Dorset and we remain open to further discussions with our drivers at the two depots at any time.”

Mr Reddy added: “We shall continue urging the union and our drivers to pursue negotiations rather than take this disruptive industrial action.

“However, I can assure our customers that contingency plans are already in place to minimise any possible negative impact the drivers’ action may have on them.

“We will also keep them informed through Twitter, Facebook and our website about any changes to their services which may result.”

Transport spokesman for Weymouth and Portland Borough Council Christine James said: “I have sympathy for both sides.

“I’m not sure what the options are but I hope there can be more discussions so an agreement can be reached.”