BUS SERVICES around north Manchester and Lancashire were brought to a halt again this week as drivers in two of Britain's leading bus companies went on strike over pay. Around 1,750 drivers on Manchester's First Group buses were on strike on Friday of last week and Monday of this week. The battle is over two issues-a decent pay rise and to get rid of the differences in pay rates that drivers get. This is the fourth time the drivers, members of the TGWU union, have taken action.
SOME 800 drivers working on Arriva buses in the north east of England held their fourth one-day strike on Friday of last week in a dispute over pay. The strikers put lively picket lines across the seven depots and got good support from the public.
They are due to be out on strike again on Friday and are also due to begin an overtime ban.
Send messages of support and donations to TGWU Offices, Fry Street, Middlesbrough TS1 1HA. Fax 01642 254 145.
DRIVERS on Stagecoach buses in Lancashire joined the Manchester strikers on Monday of this week.
The workers have been on 15 one-day strikes in their battle over pay. The action by around 700 drivers began in May after they voted overwhelmingly to strike for £5.50 an hour.
Stagecoach, run by millionaire Brian Souter, has claimed it cannot afford this. Stagecoach managers in Lancashire tried to bribe the workers last week into giving up their strike by offering them a one-off payment of £100. The workers rejected the deal by 480 votes to 80.
Management has since announced that it will withdraw part of the drivers' pay-around £15 a week. Drivers have shown determination throughout the action. Yet their TGWU union officials have not shown the same doggedness to win the dispute.
They have refused to escalate the action. One driver told Socialist Worker, 'The union is just keeping us in the dark. They are not listening to the lads. You just turn up to the picket line and that's it. It's as if it is just the union's fight, not ours. They are not calling any mass meetings to get depots together, so we are fragmented across the separate depots and it just doesn't feel right. It's as if the whole of our union is not pulling the same way.'
At the beginning of the summer workers voted to escalate the action to a two-day strike, with a significant number of drivers voting for all out. But union officials have refused to put this mandate into action and have kept to a routine of one-day strikes.
As the Lancashire driver says, 'They've got scabs covering the most profitable routes. I think we should say to them in two weeks time we are going to go on all-out strike. Make us a sensible offer or you've had it. I feel even the threat of all-out would get them round the table.'
Send messages of support and donations for both the Manchester and Lancashire strikers: Regional TGWU Office, Transport House, Merchants' Quay, Salford Quays, Salford M5 2SG. Fax 0161 872 6067.