Socialist Worker

Bus workers show full throttle solidarity

by Alan Kenny, Sheffield
Issue No. 1912

STRIKING BUS workers in South Yorkshire have won an important battle in their war against low pay.

Bus company First Group threatened to bring in scab buses when talks between management and TGWU officials broke down last Friday.

But mass pickets mobilised in Sheffield and brilliant support from Bradford, Portsmouth and Glasgow forced bosses to back down.

First Group were warned that if they attempted to mount a scab operation with managers recruited from Bradford, Portsmouth or Glasgow they would be faced with walkouts.

The local media reported that a number of major stores in Sheffield and Rotherham were badly affected by the strike.

Talks revealed that management had offered the 30p an hour increase being sought by the union, but they insisted that they would take it out of sick pay.

This is despite the fact that the multinational company has reported profits of £160 million. So the strike goes on.

Picket lines at Olive Grove, Sheffield’s largest depot, have been big, and on Saturday a disco was held on the picket line.

First Group’s attempt to use scab buses running from Monday morning would clearly have swelled picket lines.

The messages of solidarity from around the country showed that the stakes are high for both sides.

For the first time a strike bulletin is being produced.

An official call for support and solidarity from other unions has also now gone out.

More than £200 was raised in the first few days.

Meetings with strikers should now be set up in other workplaces around Sheffield and South Yorkshire.

The bus drivers can win, but they need solidarity.

As one driver said, “First Group has a major recruitment problem. There is a 30 percent turnover of drivers in South Yorkshire.

“Many of the drivers working for First today were the people who worked in the pits or in the steel industry.

“There are people that have worked on the buses for 20 years and have seen the damage that privatisation has done.

“It is a policy of divide and conquer. Yorkshire Terrier buses always pay their drivers slightly more than First do.

“To really put the bosses under pressure they need to come out too.

Last year we took limited strike action, and we decided to go all out to make them listen.”

Engineers at Olive Grove are also due to ballot for strike action, and are watching to see what happens.

Engineers in the Amicus union are refusing to provide back-up to any scab buses.

Aras, who has been working at the depot for six months, went to speak at a local PCS branch meeting in Sheffield

After he explained his case a collection raised £30.

Please send cheques payable to the TGWU, c/o Steve Clark, TGWU Regional Office, 55 Call Lane, Leeds LS1. E-mail messages of support to

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Article information

Sat 31 Jul 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1912
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