A war of words between the leisure department and the Unite union has left the bus drivers dispute at stalemate.
Next Wednesday drivers will hold two, two-hour stoppages in the latest stage of a long-running row over pay, terms and conditions.
The strike call follows a breakdown in relations which has seen the two sides argue over a series of proposals to deal with the issue at the heart of the dispute, guaranteed hours payment following the loss of paid lunch breaks.
Unite's north-west boss Bobby Morton today (27 March) claimed his members were ready to accept an offer from the department - only for it to be withdrawn before a ballot was held.
However, leisure chiefs have vehemently denied this version of events.
The department says the union approached them first, accepting the loss of paid lunch breaks as part of a package deal. It subsequently rejected Unite's proposal which included a demand for additional hours elsewhere, as it did not achieve the savings needed.
The union has now accused the DCCL of undermining a broad agreement to end the dispute and negotiations have collapsed.
Chief executive Nick Black says the department tabled a discussion document, not a formal offer: