BUS DRIVERS in Worthing, Sussex, were set to strike this Saturday for a decent pay deal. The 86 drivers work for the Stagecoach company.
Paul Cowell, the branch secretary of the TGWU union at Worthing buses, told Socialist Worker, 'We had planned a 12-hour strike from just after midnight on Friday through to midday on Saturday. But we have just been informed that the company could lock us out as they don't recognise 12-hour strikes.
'Management imposed a pay deal of £7 an hour on us in October. There is also an unfair and unjust attendance allowance that isn't paid if you're late for work or sick. All we're asking for is £7.50 an hour. It's not a great deal. But Stagecoach have said, 'Here's £7-like it or lump it.'
'There is a lot of anger here. Members have voted by 84.4 percent for a strike. Less than 20 minutes drive from here there is a bus depot paying drivers £8 a hour Monday to Friday and £9 an hour at weekends. Around 45 minutes drive from here drivers are being paid £8.49 an hour.
'We can be working 13 hours a day and only get paid for ten hours of it. I'll work from 6.40am to 7pm today and only get paid for ten hours. There has been an exodus of drivers from Worthing recently because of the low pay and bad conditions. This is people who've worked here for 18 or 20 years.
'Management are bringing drivers here from all over the country to fill the gaps. They're being paid £120 a day and being put up in hotels and Stagecoach can't give us £7.50 an hour.
'Our first strike is this Saturday and then the next one is on Wednesday 17 December. We also have one planned for Monday 5 January. If the company lock us out that will just increase the anger.'
AROUND 450 bus drivers across the East Midlands struck last Saturday and are set to strike again on all the Saturdays before Christmas. The strike at Trent Buses is over pay. Last Saturday it hit Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire.
Peter Whipps, a TGWU union rep, said, 'The offer gives different rates to different people. Some will receive just 3.5 percent. Add to that the fact 200 employees last year got no rise at all and you can see it is not enough.'
In another dispute, Kinch buses (another Trent Barton company, which serves Loughborough) was set to strike on Friday this week.