Transport bosses and union representatives will meet today for last minute talks to avert strike action by bus drivers over a pay dispute.

As part of a Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) ballot on Tuesday, 68 per cent of Travel West Midlands bus drivers took part in the vote.

Of those 73 per cent were in favour of industrial action.

A TGWU spokesman: "We have been in talks with the company since October last year.

"There are 3,600 drivers operating out of 11 garages with one million people a day using buses on 450 different routes. We are talking about a major company here.

"We have just finished plans looking to negotiate a new pay structure with them, including an increase in pay and a maximum driving time of eight hours a day.

"Working hours for bus drivers varies from company to company. Currently they work for five and a half hours at a time and then have a proper break.

"We want to see this brought down to four and a half hours if we can and eight hours maximum time in any one day."

In addition to the review of working hours, the union said the drivers' claim was in line with its Bus Worker's Charter, which aims for a minimum salary of £20,000 a year.

John Tuhey, the union's senior regional industrial organiser and spokesman for the bus drivers, said: "This vote is a very clear indication that Travel West Midlands' drivers want to see a significant improvement from their employer and are prepared to strike if necessary.

"Our members have shown a great deal of patience so far and the fact that we have not formally indicated any strike dates shows they are still showing restraint."

Speaking before Tuesday's ballot, a Travel West Midlands spokesman said: "I would expect more talks with the union will take place. There is still a long way to go." ..SUPL: