NORWICH BUS services ground to a halt last Sunday as bus drivers in the TGWU union started a seven-day strike. We are protesting against our bosses, First Bus, tearing up an agreement. The strike is hitting services hard. The 350 drivers have struck solidly. The picket lines are vibrant and confident.
Many of the agency drivers who have been drafted in are saying that they won't be coming back to work because of the strength of feeling of the strikers. First Bus want to increase our driving hours and cut down on paid breaks. They want us to work between five and five and a half hours before we get a break.
At the moment we drive up to four hours eight minutes. Any longer is a threat to drivers and the public. Bosses only want to pay us for 45 minutes of our breaks. This is during a 12 and a half to 13-hour shift. The union was not consulted on this. It was imposed on us.
We won't back off. The feeling is very strong here. We had an 85 percent turnout in the strike ballot. Some 91.7 percent of people voted in favour of striking. We have bent over backwards to please management in the past, even taking a pay cut of 6 percent. We've had our sick pay cut by 20 percent. Bosses are in charge of our summer holidays.
They just keep coming back for more. We're going to keep up the fight. After this seven-day strike we're going back to work for two weeks and if First Bus haven't backed down by then we'll be going out for another seven days.