“They’re trying to bust the union!” This was the rallying cry from Nottingham tram workers on a picket line outside their depot on Monday morning explaining their action.
Spirits were high. The tram drivers and conductors, members of the GMB union, were on the first of a series of official one-day strikes against NTC, the company that runs Nottingham’s trams.
NTC, a consortium involving the Labour-run city council and a French multinational, has refused a pay rise and is threatening to reduce sick pay.
The strikers suggest the firm is using the current recession as an excuse and say they have seen evidence the plans to attack sick pay were originally drawn up in 2007.
The GMB has offered to sit down with NTC to identify cost savings but the company is having none of it. That’s why the strikers are convinced that the move is an all-out attack on their organisation.
All offers to find savings should be withdrawn because of the company’s response.
The strike was solid with only a handful of trams driven by managers operating during the Monday morning rush hour.
Many of the pickets used to work on Nottingham’s buses. They told Socialist Worker that a number of their ex-colleagues on the buses had been suspended for refusing to operate a strike-breaking service on the tram route.
A representative from the rural Trent-Barton bus company stood on the picket line in solidarity. The strikers were also expecting a visit from members of the PCS civil servants’ union.
This excellent solidarity needs to be built on and extended across Nottingham for next week’s strike.