Socialist Worker

First Group rattled

by Helen Shooter
Issue No. 1857

THE THREAT of further action by First Group bus workers across South Yorkshire has led to a new pay offer. Over 1,000 workers had defied the recommendation of their TGWU officials to accept the previous offer.

The workers were pleased that First Group had removed the strings attached to the pay deal. These would have meant the workers losing two days bank holidays and only having their pay deal backdated to May, not April. However, many of the workers were still not happy with the pay rises. So the workers rejected that deal by 19 votes. They threatened to follow up their recent three-day strike with a four-day strike from Friday of this week.

Now First Group has been forced to give them yet another pay offer. The workers were due to vote on that this week. The key issue was the different rates of pay given to drivers depending on how long they had worked for the company.

Although the newer drivers on the lower rates would have got up to £20 a week extra, drivers who have worked longer at the company would have got much less. The workers objected to the bosses reducing pay differentials by holding down the rate of the better paid drivers. First Group's £216 million profit last year means it can afford to give all the drivers a decent increase in their wages. The drivers' simmering anger is fuelled by the way their management has treated them.

First Group drivers told Socialist Worker they are 'pissed off with the regime'. They can be hauled into the boss's office on the slightest excuse, even for having a day off sick. They are then faced with threats of a disciplinary. Their solid three-day strike saw over 100 strikers join picket lines outside the main Sheffield depot and across South Yorkshire. It has shown First Group that the workers are a force to be reckoned with.

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Sat 28 Jun 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1857
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