A WELSH Government minister has called for a swift and "successful" end to a pay dispute between bus firm Stagecoach and striking union members.

Drivers at depots in Blackwood, Brynmawr and Cwmbran are in the third week of strike action against the company, which is refusing to meet their union demands for better pay.

Talks are ongoing between the bus firm and the Unite trade union. After an initial round strikes, another round of action is planned between November 17 and January 10.

Today in the Welsh Parliament, deputy climate change minister Lee Waters said he was "very concerned that the dispute hasn't yet been brought to a successful resolution".

"I would certainly urge that to happen as soon as possible, because people are now beginning to suffer as services are not there for them when they need them," he told the Senedd.

Mr Waters was responding to Plaid Cymru MS Delyth Jewell, who represents the South Wales East region. She said it was "regrettable" that the dispute had not been resolved "when you consider how little the drivers are asking for, which is only a £1 increase in pay to £10.50 an hour" and less than what "trainee drivers receive over the border in England".

Ms Jewell said she understood Stagecoach had "pulled out" of a meeting with Unite "with just 45 minutes' notice" on Monday, and "one manager" had "apparently described the union's call for a £1 pay rise as 'a fantasy pay demand as part of a wider political agenda'".

"I do worry about the attitude that prompted them to say that," she told the Senedd.

The Argus put these claims to Stagecoach South Wales, and a spokesperson for the bus firm said: "The planned talks with the union were rescheduled with ACAS on Friday to allow both sides to reflect and consider options. Both sides met again on Tuesday this week and have further meetings on Thursday and Friday. We remain 100 per cent committed to resolving this dispute."

Deputy minister Mr Waters said he had met with Unite this week, and "was very concerned by their suggestion that part of the motivation was that the company wanted to remain as low cost and competitive as possible so that when the bus emergency scheme ends in July, they're able to put in tenders at the lowest possible price to secure future routes".

Stagecoach did not comment on these claims.