Around 100 bus drivers in Kettering, Northamptonshire, held their first strike “for donkeys’ years” on Wednesday of last week, having voted 70 to 30 to reject Stagecoach’s measly 1.8 percent pay offer.
A lively picket of around 45 drivers got great support from passing vans and cars and a large group marched up to the town centre.
Supporters brought cakes and drinks to the picket line.
The drivers, who are members of the Unite union, are angry about low pay and about earning less than Stagecoach drivers in neighbouring towns.
Drivers also told Socialist Worker about shift patterns that wreck family life and about bullying managers. “They’ll sack you for a mistake of 30 pence,” one worker said.
One of the drivers from the X4 route told Socialist Worker that managers had taken out a full-page advert in the local paper to put the case against the strikers. “But I think the strike hit them harder than they expected,” he said.
“We have already had our rotas altered and our hours cut – losing pay. In the end you have to make a stand.”
The strike clearly came as a shock to Stagecoach bosses. One manager was overheard saying, “We were sure it would be called off. Northamptonshire don’t go on strike.” Well they do now.
Further one-day strikes are planned on Friday of next week and 2 November.