Socialist Worker

Strikers mass picket in Rusholme drives point home to First bus bosses

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2585

Pickets stopped buses from leaving the depot

Pickets stopped buses from leaving the depot


Unite union members at the First Manchester bus depot in Rusholme are fighting on for pay parity. They are set to strike on Monday, Wednesday and Friday—their 13th strike week.

They struck on 20, 22 and 23 December.

Some 70 drivers at the depot are paid less than other drivers doing the same job in different depots.

Rusholme drivers earn up to £5,000 a year less than drivers at another First Manchester depot just two miles down the road.

The pay disparity dates back to 2013, when Arriva took over the depot from coach operator Finglands.

Initially drivers stuck for just one day a week, but escalated the action to every Monday, Wednesday and Friday last month.

The escalation was an attempt to break the bosses’ army of scab managers that were running some services.

Strike breakers were brought in from as far afield as Scotland and Bristol.

But the strike is so solid that bosses can only run a heavily reduced service during the walkouts—and sometimes are unable to do even that.

Trade unionists joined a mass picket on 20 December, and blocked buses from leaving the depot.

Delegations from CWU, PCS, Unison and Unite Community unions and Manchester trades council helped lift the strikers’ sprits. The picket was called by Manchester and Trafford Momentum and followed a solidarity social for strikers organised by Unite the Resistance.

Unite reps met with management during the week of strikes but were unable to reach an agreement. More strikes can win the pay parity Rusholme drivers deserve.

Join the picket line, Monday 8 January, from 4am. Go to Facebook event First Manchester Rusholme Strike Action Week 13 facebook.com/events/2314045955488548/ and on Wednesday 10 January, from 4am, called by Manchester Unite the Resistance facebook.com/events/167591410405677/

Arriva North West drivers accept new pay deal

Bus drivers have voted by around two to one to accept Arriva North West bosses’ new two year pay offer—bringing an end to a three-month long dispute. The result meant a planned four day strike in the week before Christmas was called off. Some 2,000 workers in Merseyside and Greater Manchester held 11 strikes.

Unite and GMB union members won a rise of 3.2 percent for the first year and 2.6 percent in the second year.

The two-year deal would mean a pay increase for all depots. But it does not addess the pay disparity that was part of the fight.

Merseyside depots will be paid up to 68p an hour more than workers in Bolton doing the same job.

The unions haven’t released figures from the ballot. But posts on social media suggest the Unite members voted 1,286 to accept and 547 to reject.

More could have been won if strikes had continued through Christmas. The battle must go on to level up and win equal pay for all.


Workers set for more strikes at arriva Cross Country

RMT union members on the Arriva Cross Country railway network are continuing their strikes over rostering abuses and Sunday working.

They’ve already struck for seven Sundays.

This has had a huge impact on the network, with some stations unable to run any Cross Country services.

And in a separate dispute the TSSA transport union members on Cross Country may strike over pay.

Ballot papers went out on 28 December and the TSSA is recommending that its members now vote to strike.


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