Unite members employed by Dial-a-ride will begin a 48 hour stoppage from today in a dispute over the withdrawal of rest days and the imposition of new rosters.

The 120 workers, who operate from depots in Woodford in north London and Orpington in Bromley, provide special needs transport to the elderly, the vulnerable and those with disabilities. The service is operated by Transport for London (TfL).

The drivers are set to lose 10 rest days a year and the new rosters are creating such high levels of stress and anxiety that members have been forced to contact Tfl’s emergency helpline about their concerns.

The strike was confirmed at the end of last week when peace talks brokered by the conciliation service Acas failed to resolve the dispute.

Unite regional officer Hugh Roberts said: “Our members do not take strike action lightly but they have been forced to do so because of these unwarranted and unneeded attacks on their conditions.

“The removal of rest days and the imposition of impossible rosters will directly affect the safety of our members and their passengers, as they will no longer enjoy the rest periods they need in order to cope with what is a difficult, complex and stressful job.”

“Inevitably this strike action will have a severe effect on Dial-a-ride users. I hope it is understood that Unite members took strike action as an absolute last resort and they deeply regret the inconvenience caused to users of the service.

“This dispute is entirely the making of high handed management who have first failed to consult with workers and then refused to listen to their concerns.”