Socialist Worker

Drivers in West Yorkshire strike against bus bosses

by Dave Ramsden and Martin Jones
Issue No. 2530

An Arriva bus in Leeds. Arriva bus drivers in Yorkshire were on strike this week

An Arriva bus in Leeds. Arriva bus drivers in Yorkshire were on strike this week (Pic: Ian Roberts/Wikimedia Commons)


Over 850 Arriva bus drivers across West Yorkshire struck on Monday of this week in an ongoing dispute about pay and conditions, particularly driver hours.

Drivers in the Unite union want an extra 20p an hour, backdated to January. They are angry that the company is so tight fisted when it is making big profits.

Arriva is one of Europe’s biggest bus operators employing 55,000 people. It made £368 million profit in 2014/5.

The drivers are especially angry over working times that mean they can drive for up to five and a half hours without a break.

They say this is unsafe and dangerous, both for them and the passengers.

Instead they are demanding a maximum of five hours and eventually working towards four and a half hours, the same as lorry drivers.

There was a healthy and upbeat picket at the Heckmondwike garage in Kirklees.

Drivers on the picket line told a typical tale of unappreciative managers wanting more for less.

Skeleton

Managers and inspectors ran a scab skeleton service and allowed passengers to travel free. It showed the company was prepared to spend money in order to make a point.

Arriva subsidiary Yorkshire Tiger buses were running as normal.

The company operates partly by using non-unionised ‘day off’ Arriva drivers.

Recently Arriva sub-contracted its late night buses from Kirklees into Leeds to an opportunist non-union taxi firm.

But Arriva buses are back on the routes since the firm went bust and the owner disappeared with the money, leaving drivers unpaid.

The workers feel that bosses have been stringing them along for almost a year.

They called off an earlier planned strike for talks, but nothing came from them.

The company again asked for emergency talks before this strike, but would not make a serious offer.

There was a determined mood on the picket lines and the workers say they will go out again if Arriva does not meet their demands.


Bus drivers in Weymouth were set to strike for 24 hours on Wednesday of this week in a continuation of their five-month long pay dispute.

The walkout was set to begin at 4.30am

The Unite union members overwhelmingly rejected First Hampshire & Dorset bosses’ latest offer.


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