DRIVERS at Blackburn’s Intack bus depot have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action across East Lancashire but any strikes will take place in the New Year.

This week a ballot result gave their union Unite power to call a strike or other measures.

North-West official Cathy Rudderforth is now in talks with bosses a bus company Transdev-Lancashire United to find a formula for avoiding the action.

The dispute is over new shift patterns and changes to drivers’ working hours and breaks.

After an earlier vote to strike, intensive talks between union officials and management made some progress before this week’s ballot on whether to renew Unite’s power to call a strike or strikes.

The former Blackburn Transport depot has 180 drivers operating 75 routes.

They stretch as far as Clitheroe, Manchester, Burnley and Preston and comprise more than 1,000 services a day.

Ms Rudderforth said: “The was an 81 per cent vote of 106 drivers in favour of industrial action. That is overwhelming This is about rosters. The original proposal was unacceptable to drivers at the depot and the ballot confirms the latest one is also not acceptable.

“We shall be continuing talks over the Christmas period.

“We hope we can find a solution to this dispute acceptable to drivers and managements.

“There will be no action over the festive period.

“Any strike or strikes will be in the New Year if we cannot find a solution.

“We will continue negotiations but if necessary we have authority to issue Transdev seven days notice of strike action which could be for one, several days or longer.”

Transdev’s operations director Russell Revill said: “Following a meeting today between the senior managers of Lancashire United, the Trade Union and invited drivers, a ‘Statement of Intent’ has been issued which suspends any pending industrial action and by agreement a working party has been formed to discuss the detail of revised rosters and schedules.

“Our intention has been and remains to provide the best possible service for our loyal and intending customers.”