KEIGHLEY Bus Company drivers walked out in a dispute over pay.

Members of Unite the Union staged a strike yesterday (Dec 4) after a claim for a 50p-an-hour rise was rejected.

The company ran temporary timetables during the day.

Phil Bown, regional officer with Unite the Union, said members had shown full support for the action.

There are over 180 drivers at Keighley, with about 98 per cent union membership.

Picket lines were set-up in the morning at locations including the bus station and depot.

"From the union's perspective it was a successful day," said Mr Bown.

"Minimal services were operating, with the few non-union drivers and managers brought in from other areas.

"The cost of living has continued to rise but pay hasn't kept pace.

"Both the company's offers were below the rate of inflation.

"We have tried to resolve this issue but were forced into a situation where this was the only course of action left."

He added that as a result of the action, a meeting has been arranged for Monday with conciliation service ACAS.

The bus company said it was "really pleased" with the response from customers during the day.

"Thousands travelled with us as we provided essential services to get people to work, school and hospital as normal," said a spokesman.

"We estimate that around 80 per cent of passengers travelled as normal on our Keighley network.

"We remain as keen as ever to ensure strike action does not disrupt our customers. We look forward to sensible discussions in future.

"Just like a trade union believes in the right to hold strike action, we believe in the right for people to go about their normal business, as they did yesterday and we intend to see in the future."

The firm said it regretted any disruption the "unnecessary" action had caused.

Passengers were advised through the company's website and social media to check the revised timetables before travelling.

Bosses defended the pay offer to drivers.

"It represents an hourly increase of up to 34p over two years for our drivers – who are already among the best paid in West Yorkshire," they said in a statement.

"In addition, we have invested considerably in many new buses and other improvements to retain and attract customers and meet increasing demands for improved air quality, which helps to secure our future as a vital service to the people of Keighley.

"While we value the efforts of our colleagues, the union’s claim for a 50p-an-hour increase in a single year – as well as further overtime enhancements – represents up to a seven per cent rise which is simply unaffordable, particularly in Keighley where we are seeing fewer people travelling around the town. We cannot bear an increase far in excess of inflation."