Socialist Worker

Coordinated transport strike set to bring cities to a standstill

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2579

The action is set to bring some transport network to a standstill

The action is set to bring some transport network to a standstill (Pic: Steven Hughes/Flickr)


Bus and rail workersin the north west of England were set for a coordinated strike this Wednesday.

The walkout will involve over 2,000 bus drivers and engineering workers employed by Arriva North West across 11 depots.

And RMT union members across six rail networks—Southern, Greater Anglia, South West Railways, Island Line, Northern and Merseyrail—will be out too.

This coordinated action will bring some sections of the country’s transport network to a standstill.

In Liverpool all train and bus services will be affected by the strike.

Disputes

All the strikes are part of ongoing disputes. Bus workers in the Unite and GMB unions at Arriva North West have struck for the last six Mondays over pay.

Unite says bosses’ latest offer increases pay differences between depots, and is below inflation. Pay can differ between as much as 2 percent between depots.

There were large picket lines and solid strikes during last month’s strike.

One Bolton bus driver told Socialist Worker, “Everyone is really up for the strike. We’re one of the worst paid depots in Manchester. We’ve had a couple of people go over the picket line but it’s been mostly solid. And more people have joined the union since the strike started.

“The bosses want it to seem like we’re the problem, but the public is supportive.”

The train strikes are the latest in a long-running dispute about driver only operation (DOO) trains that bosses want to bring in.

This would remove the safety-critical role of the guard and make the driver responsible for opening and shutting the doors. It would make train travel less safe and less accessible.

RMT union members at Southern, Greater Anglia, South West Railways and Island Line will stay out on strike on Thursday too.

Recommended

Aslef union members are also in dispute over DOO at Southern, but their union leadership has recommended they accept a new deal.

This would give workers a 28 percent pay rise over five years and a second member of staff would be on board apart from in “exceptional circumstances”.

But bosses think some normal parts of running the service are “exceptional”.

Other groups of train workers are getting ready to fight. The TSSA union is to ballot its members on Virgin Trains West Coast mainline over pay.

Virgin is giving a 9 percent rise to drivers but just 3.2 percent to other workers on stations and trains. Transport workers should reject bosses’ drive for division.

And all workers should back the strikes.


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