BUS drivers in Weymouth and Bridport are set to strike again on Monday for the second time in three weeks.

Sixty drivers who are members of the Unite union and employed by the First bus company will stage a 24-hour walk out starting at 4.30am.

Most buses ran during the last strike on January 20 and First says it again hopes to run a full service as much as possible.

Managers and supervisors from across the Dorset, Hampshire and Berkshire area will be brought in to cover shifts.

The dispute centres on drivers' pay, currently £8.30 an hour, which the union says has dramatically fallen behind their regional counterparts.

Talks to solve the dispute appeared to be paying off and a strike day planned for Monday this week was called off - but more action was threatened if negotiations broke down and no settlement was reached.

Drivers voted on a 'substantially improved pay offer yesterday, putting off a further strike today, but that offer has been overwhelmingly rejected as there are 'too many strings attached' which would have meant a reduction to drivers' terms and conditions.

That has led to the strike day on Monday, although Unite has offered to meet the company for further talks on a 'fair settlement' before it starts.

Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said: “The crux of this dispute is that our members are lagging behind the pay of their counterparts working for other regional bus operators, at a time when household bills are going through the roof.

“We regret any inconvenience caused to the travelling public, but our members feel that they have been pushed to the wall by this cheese-paring management.”

Managing Director for First Hampshire Dorset & Berkshire Marc Reddy said: “We are extremely disappointed that despite the revised offer being fully recommended by the trade union, the trade union membership has balloted to decline the offer.

“Like the previous day of industrial action on January 20, we are determined to run as full a service as we can next Monday. At the same time, we remain open to further talks with Unite to bring about a satisfactory resolution.”