Socialist Worker

Who will be last to join the First bus strikes?

by Esme Choonara and Derek Coleman
Issue No. 2174

The battle against a national pay freeze at First Bus is hotting up, with thousands of drivers across Britain due to strike together on Monday of next week.

Drivers in South Yorkshire will now join the action after throwing out a new pay offer last week and calling two days of strikes.

The South Yorkshire drivers stunned First bosses by defying the recommendation of their Unite union to reject the new offer by 514 to 379.

The deal on the table would have meant accepting a pay freeze for this year, with a 2.5 percent rise next year and a one-off additional holiday.

Over 1,000 drivers across South Yorkshire will now strike on Friday of this week and Monday of next week.

Unite members at depots in Bolton, Bury, Wigan and across Essex will also strike on Monday.

Drivers in Bolton, Bury and Wigan have already held seven days of solid strike action.

They were out on Monday of this week – with strong picket lines at each depot.

The mood on the picket line at Bolton was one of determined resolution.

The drivers discussed the news coming from fellow First drivers elsewhere.

Unite convenor Jimmy Green welcomed the news from South Yorkshire that they would now be striking. 

Drivers agreed that there is a growing momentum and a need for coordinated national action to resist the company’s pay freeze.

Many union members also want to fight to establish equality of pay and conditions for all First drivers.

Despite raking in huge profits, First bosses are trying to use the recession to deny workers a pay rise for this year.

Other trade unionists should build support for the strikers, and bus workers everywhere need to seize the moment to spread the fight for decent pay.

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Article information

Tue 20 Oct 2009, 19:31 BST
Issue No. 2174
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