Socialist Worker

FirstGroup bosses call for talks after solid strike of bus drivers in Manchester

Issue No. 2505

On the picket line in Manchester earlier today

On the picket line in Manchester earlier today (Pic: Lewis Nielsen)

Some 150 bus drivers joined the picket line at FirstGroup’s Manchester Queen’s Road depot on Tuesday in a row over changes to conditions and bargaining procedures.

There were four groups of pickets, one on each gate, one on the corner of the road and one on the other side of the main road. The strikers got a lot of support from passing drivers.

Workers at the firm’s Oldham depot were also out. No drivers went to work at either depot and the strike has forced management to call emergency talks.

The strike affected bus services across Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford and Trafford.

The drivers have been in dispute for over a year. Bosses have cited “business reasons” for their attacks on agreed terms and conditions.

A common theme among workers was taking a stand to stop management walking all over them.

FirstGroup has plenty of money. It is a multinational company and recently announced a £5 million investment for 20 buses on the East Lancs guided busway.

Bosses will have been unpleasantly surprised by the solid support for the strike and the size and enthusiasm of the picket. Although the dispute is about terms and conditions, this strike will have an impact on the pay negotiations due to start in October.

Thanks to Adam Rose and Lewis Nielsen

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