An indefinite strike by thousands of bus drivers will go ahead from Monday after they voted in favour of industrial action in a dispute over pay.

More than 3,000 members of Unite employed by National Express in the West Midlands backed walkouts by 71%.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “National Express is an extremely wealthy company and makes considerable profits from the hard work of our members, who are not paid enough for the difficult and stressful job they do.

“The company must come back with an offer our members can accept.

“Unite’s top priority is defending and improving our members’ jobs, pay and conditions and National Express’ workforce have their union’s full support during these strikes.”

Unite national officer Onay Kasab said: “National Express have said time and again that Unite has not allowed our members a proper say on the pay deals they have put forward.

“The company’s arguments have now been exposed as hot air. National Express drivers have had enough.

“Our members are clear the offer needs to improve to reflect rising prices and the incredibly hard job they do. This will also benefit West Midlands bus services as it will help solve National Express’ recruitment and retention problems.”

The drivers work for the company’s local bus service in the West Midlands – not the white coach division.

National Express scheduled white coaches are not affected.

The company said a limited service, primarily serving the region’s major hospitals, will operate from Monday.

Services will begin to be affected from around 10.30pm on Sunday.

A spokesperson for National Express West Midlands said: “We are sorry for the disruption that this will cause across the West Midlands.

“Our advice to customers is not to try to travel on our buses unless you really need to. As the week goes on, we hope to add back in more services, so please check our website for the latest information.

“We are working with our partners to minimise the impact of the disruption in any way we can and we are seeking to bring a speedy resolution to the strike.”

The company said drivers had rejected an improved offer of a 14.3% pay increase along with increases to Christmas and New Year’s pay and accident pay.

The package would have brought an experienced driver salary up to nearly £33,000 a year and unlocked more than £900 of back pay for a full-time driver, said the company.