Around 200 bus drivers from the Stagecoach depot in Chesterfield held a strike and demonstration on Friday of last week. The action was over pay and was jointly organised by the Unite and RMT unions.
The strikers made a big impact in the town. They picketed the depot throughout the morning before marching into the town centre, where they held a rally and handed out leaflets to the public explaining why they were on strike.
Malcolm Lord, the RMT rep at the Chesterfield depot, told Socialist Worker that the strike was very solid.
He said, “It’s brilliant to see united action between the two unions. Both the unions have worked really hard on this.
“We have shown that solidarity is strong and that we are united.
“The turnout from drivers on the demo shows how strongly we all feel.”
Drivers at the depot are currently paid £7.50 an hour. In their first year the rate is even less than this.
Although drivers get an extra £1 an hour on Sundays, there is no special rate for overtime or unsociable hours.
Union members overwhelmingly rejected a two-year pay offer of 4.5 percent this year and either 3.5 percent or the retail price index (RPI) plus 0.5 percent next year.
They point out that the offer would amount to an increase of less than 34p an hour.
Stagecoach operates buses in over 100 towns and cities.
Drivers at the Chesterfield depot are angry that Stagecoach pays different rates at different depots, with many depots paid at a higher rate than Chesterfield.
Stagecoach can easily afford a decent pay rise for drivers across the company.
In April it announced that profits were up 38 percent on the previous year – up £45 million to £162 million. Some £82.5 million of those profits are from the bus business.
Stagecoach boss Brian Souter received a 13 percent pay rise last year, taking his annual pay to over £1 million.
This is on top of a £5.5 million dividend and the £175 million profit that he shared with his sister after the sell-off of Stagecoach’s London bus business. Chesterfield drivers are due to strike again on Friday of this week.
Bus engineers at Stagecoach Northeast have taken three days of strikes recently as part of a pay campaign.
Over 100 engineers at four depots, members of the Amicus section of Unite, have rejected a two-year pay offer. They are demanding a pay award that is not staged.