Socialist Worker

Bus drivers in north west of England fight bosses over safety, pay and cuts

Workers on strike at two north west bus companies are driving bosses round the bend, writes Sarah Bates

Issue No. 2583

First Manchester bus drivers on strike

First Manchester bus drivers on strike (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Over 2,000 bus drivers and engineers in north west England are battling on as their fight for decent pay reaches its third month.

Workers in 11 depots have struck for the past six Mondays. A strike planned for Thursday was cancelled for talks.

Unite and GMB union members working for Arriva North West are fighting for a pay rise in line with inflation—and an end to pay differences between depots.

And in a separate dispute bus drivers at the First Manchester depot in Rusholme are set to strike for three days as part of a fight over pay parity.

They’ve struck for every Monday in October and November, and are fighting to be paid as much as the workers at other First Manchester depots. Strikes at the Rusholme depot were set to take place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next week.

The strike affects large parts of Merseyside and Greater Manchester transport network, with no buses leaving some depots.

Striking Arriva North West bus drivers in Liverpool joined a Unions 4 Safety lunchtime rally of up to 250 people.

They were joined by driving instructors in the PCS union who were also on strike over changes to pay and working conditions.

Merseyrail workers—who had previously struck in coordinated action with the bus drivers—joined the demo too.

Arriva North West drivers are set to strike again between 12-14 and 20-23 December. Management are worried and are trying everything to break the strike.

At the Arriva North West depot in Wythenshawe, workers who usually drive rail replacement services are crossing the picket line. But less than a quarter of the usual number of buses are going out.

Tension

A striker there spoke to Socialist Worker about how scabs crossing the picket line “means a bit of tension inside the depot. But we can hold our head up high because we’ve not crossed”.

Staffing cutbacks mean that drivers are being pressured into taking overtime.

Previously depots had “standby” drivers, who would take over services that were running late.

Bus workers strike across north west England - and get Arriva bosses worried
Bus workers strike across north west England - and get Arriva bosses worried
  Read More

But bosses have axed the standbys which means drivers are pressured into staying on buses, even if it runs past the end of their shift.

An Arriva North West driver explained how the strike is about much more than pay

“We’re making a stand here, we should be striking over conditions too,” he said.

“We’re pressured to do overtime, and often they ring us on our days off to come in and work.”

Another striker remained confident about the outcome. “I think we’ll get there if we stay strong together, we’ll win in the end,” he said.

“This strike means we’ll get what we deserve and the bosses won’t take us for granted.

“Without us this company wouldn’t work. But I don’t think the managers see that, they’re just lining their pockets.”


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