Over 2,000 Metroline bus drivers are set to strike on Monday after they overwhelmingly rejected the latest pay offer from management.
The T&G union members have already taken two very successful days of strike action over pay. Metroline originally offered a 4 percent rise. The union put in a claim for 6.5 percent to lift the basic hourly rate to £11 pounds an hour.
After only one day of strike action, the company raised its offer to 5 percent. That offer was rejected by 1,473 to 227.
On Friday of last week the drivers rejected a new offer which raised the basic rate to £11 an hour, but clawed that money back by cutting overtime rates to the basic level and freezing holiday pay.
Because of low pay, many workers rely heavily on overtime to make up their wages.
The deal would have raised the basic rate by 67p an hour but cut the overtime rate by £1.30 an hour.
One T&G member said, “This is an outrageous deal. They say they are offering us a rise but they are trying to take more off us than they are actually offering. It’s an insult.
“They must think we are stupid.” Other drivers agreed, rejecting the offer by a huge majority.
The strikes have hit Metroline hard. They are rumoured to be losing £2 million for every strike day.
Despite plasma screens in every garage pumping out management propaganda that the company is making generous and productive offers, the drivers have stuck it out for a decent deal.
More action before Christmas will put them under real pressure.
“The strikes have been very strong,” a driver told Socialist Worker. “We have had very big and united picket lines. We need to keep up the momentum while the company is under pressure.”
“We have had too many years of being messed around,” another union member added. “This time drivers are in no mood to compromise.”
One T&G member told Socialist Worker that the strike is not just about Metroline. “I have spoken to drivers at other companies.
“They are in the same boat as us. They take courage from our strike – some of them are thinking that if we can fight,
so can they.”
This is also a crucial battle against low pay and for the future of public transport. People should support the strike by taking collections to the picket lines or to the union offices in the garages.
Send messages of support to [email protected]
Other bus action
Metroline is the latest in a series of bus disputes around Britain.
Over 1,000 workers at First Bus in Leeds are due to strike on Monday over changes to their final pension salary scheme.
They have also called two more strike days on 23 and 24 December. Workers at East London Bus Company are currently balloting over pensions.