BUS drivers in Dorset have accepted an offer to end a pay dispute that led to strike action.

Around 60 First Hampshire and Dorset drivers were involved in 24-hour walk outs across January and February over being paid less than drivers in neighbouring regions.

Unite, the country’s largest union, said two thirds of the drivers had accepted a 30p increase in their hourly rate to £8.80.

Unite spokesman Bob Lanning told the Echo that while they were pleased with the increase it was at the lower end of the average bus driver wage range.

He said: “There is still a gap as some drivers in other areas like Bournemouth earned more than £10 an hour, but the strike action was justified.

"We'd like to have gone further but we've made quite a leap.

“We are hoping that we will be able to increase this to £9 next year.

"The drivers were adamant they wanted to be paid closer to their counterparts around the country and this is the course they chose to take.

“The drivers aim was to get £9 an hour and that is still at the low end of the average wage for a bus driver.”

The dispute centred on the pay of the drivers, currently on £8.30 an hour, compared with their regional colleagues.

Talks led the bus company to finally offer bus drivers a 2.5 per cent increase for last year, a leap from £8.30 to £8.50 an hour, and a further 3.5 per cent increase for this year, which takes it to £8.80 an hour.

Strike action impacted the Bridport, Portland and Weymouth areas.

A spokesman for First Hampshire, Dorset and Berkshire: "We were always open to negotiations with the union and we believe our continued discussions have helped to bring about a satisfactory resolution."

One local bus driver, who did not wish to be named, said: “It is very poor but it is more than we were originally offered.”