Another strike is planned for next Monday unless bosses concede an acceptable settlement.
The actions come after Arriva’s latest pay offer, which is just 31p extra an hour and increases the pay differences between depots.
Unite says the new offer will mean pay can vary up to £2 an hour from one depot to another.
Drivers at 11 depots took part, with big picket lines including around 80 at Birkenhead.
In some depots not a single driver crossed the picket line and every service had to be cancelled.
At the Bolton depot there were more than 40 pickets at 4am on Monday.
Drivers originally from Poland helped to persuade the few non-union members who turned up for work to join the picket line.
Engineers not involved in the dispute stayed away from work.
Senior managers handed out hi-vis jackets to the pickets “to keep them safe”.
Payments to Arriva’s highest paid director totalled £4.4 million last year.
Thanks to Neil Mcalister