BUS drivers will no longer strike over a pay dispute next week to allow for further talks.

Unite, the country’s largest union, has suspended the 24-hour action involving about 60 drivers at First Dorset and Hampshire.

Talks to solve the pay dispute will now continue next week.

If the dispute is not settled by the end of next week, Unite has already given the company notice that there will be a 24-hour strike on Monday, February 3, This will hit the Bridport, Portland and Weymouth areas.

The drivers already held a successful 24-hour strike on Monday.

It centres on the pay of the drivers, currently on £8.30 an hour, compared with their regional colleagues, such as drivers on Yellow Buses in Bournemouth who earn more than £10 an hour.

Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said: “To allow for talks to fully explore the issues involved, Unite has suspended Wednesday’s strike, but should the negotiations not reach a successful conclusion our members will take action again on Monday 3 February.

“Our members are some of the lowest paid bus drivers in the country – 30 miles away in Bournemouth Yellow Buses’ drivers are receiving more than £10 an hour.

“They would like £9.00 an hour, without any strings attached.

“Unite is entering these talks in a constructive frame of mind, but there has to be ‘new’ money on the table, as our members’ incomes have been really squeezed by soaring household bills.”