Socialist Worker

Bus drivers in North West shift pay fight up a gear

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2581

Workers in Bootle show their opposition to the new offer

Workers in Bootle show their opposition to the new offer (Pic: Unite)


Bus workers in the north west of England are escalating their fight after bosses made a “final offer” of just 1p an hour more than the previous offer.

Up to 2,000 bus drivers and engineers are set to strike on 4 and 7 December, from 12 to 14 December and again from 20 to 23 December.

Talks between Arriva North West bosses and the Unite and GMB unions broke down last Friday.

They struck this Monday as part of programme of action that’s seen them walk out every Monday during October and November.

Unite member Ged, a bus driver at the Green Lane Stoneycroft depot in Liverpool, said the latest offer had angered people.

“It is an insult and it is winding people up more than anything,” he told Socialist Worker.

“Usually 120 buses would have left the depot today, but not a single one has.”

He added, “Our strike is so solid that hopefully we’ll have more leverage next time we sit down to negotiate.”

Differences 

The workers are fighting to end pay differences across 11 Arriva North West depots and for a pay rise in line with inflation.

Bosses say that their latest offer is 2.6 percent rising to 3 percent after six months.

But the unions said it’s an “insulting” deal—and are demanding at least an additional 2p an hour. They are both balloting their members next week on the new offer, with a strong recommendation to reject.

Unite regional organiser John Broughton told Socialist Worker the strikers were “resolute and firm in their conviction”.

“We’ve recommended rejecting this deal, but I don’t think we needed to because there is so much anger out there,” he said. “They’re angry at the way Arriva North West is treating them.

“We’re asking for an extra 2p an hour, which would make it about a 3.1 percent rise.

“And that doesn’t even keep up with inflation.”

Escalating strikes can force the bosses to pay up.


Rail workers at Cross Country walk out over work hours

Train managers and senior conductors at the Arriva Cross Country rail company struck over shift patterns last Sunday.

The RMT union said that scab workers were offered £250 and luxury hotel accommodation.

But bosses were forced to admit the strike meant “a limited train service”.

A further five strikes are planned this month and next month, including on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.


Big vote for action on Virgin West Coast line 

RMT union members on the Virgin West Coast line have returned a massive vote to walk out over pay.

Almost 1,400 train managers and on board catering, clerical and retail staff voted by 91 percent to strike on an 81 percent turnout. The route runs from Glasgow to London.

Virgin bosses offered drivers a 9 percent pay rise, but other train and station staff only 3.2 percent.

Some 400 TSSA union members on the West Coast line are also balloting for strikes, with the result expected on 28 November.

The unions are demanding a deal similar to the one offered to train drivers.

Alongside the pay rise, drivers got a one hour reduction in the working week and an additional £500 on top of their basic salary.


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