'RMT MEMBERS, now knowing the company's pay offer as outlined to them at Exeter and Torquay on Sunday 20 July and the greedy excesses paid out to the directors, can only take one view that what is good for them is not good for us. The members have decided to continue their struggle for better pay and conditions and nothing short of their claim will result in normal working. The sooner Stagecoach management realise this, the better for them, ourselves and the passengers.'
That defiant statement was issued by striking bus workers employed by Stagecoach in Devon after a mass meeting on Sunday. Sunday's meeting was told that an offer of £6.50 an hour from 1 August 2003, with no back pay from 27 April 2003 and a new anniversary date of 1 April 2005, was the best on offer. Their response was a unanimous rejection, and a decision to step up the level of strikes.
Strikers' determination to see this strike through has been boosted in the last week by a visit to Exeter by their RMT union leader Bob Crow. Bob spoke to a packed mass meeting in the Transport Club. He said that if Stagecoach wanted to turn this into a national dispute by bringing in scabs from all over the country then the union would need to consider how it can give the strikers national support. Pickets also report nothing but support from passers-by. Around 700 workers are out.
Monday night also saw the launch of a Devon bus workers support group, which pulled together local activists and members of other trade unions, especially from the CWU, to begin a concerted campaign of leafleting, petitioning and street collections for the hardship fund.
STAGECOACH BOSS Brian Souter received a 72 percent increase in his salary last year to £800,000.
For more information phone 01392 877 940. Send messages of support and donations to Devon bus strikers c/o Lynda Quick, RMT branch secretary, 149 Lower Wear Road, Countess Wear, Exeter EX2 7DD. Cheques payable to RMT South West No2 branch.