Strikers in Manchester from three long-running disputes are rallying together this week against penny pinching bosses.
Bus drivers, housing maintenance workers and IT workers were set to strike on Friday in the latest action in disputes that began last year. They are all members of Unite.
Drivers at the First Bus depot in Rusholme are striking for pay parity.
They are paid up to £5,000 a year less than drivers doing the same job at other First Bus depots.
Drivers are striking on alternate Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. They are due to have their first meeting with conciliation service Acas on 31 January.
But driver Robert said they weren’t calling off strikes at this stage. “They’re not going to get away with just calling a meeting and us giving up, so we’re still on strike,” he said.
Workers have struck almost every week since November. Supporters regularly visit the strikers, including trade unionists and Labour councillors. Robert said the support of others is vital to the success of the strike and said, “People are still visiting us, and we’re getting loads of support from the public.”
Meanwhile, housing maintenance workers at Mears housing contracting company are also striking for pay parity and an end to outsourcing. The 160 workers maintain houses owned by Northwards—the arm’s length management company run by Manchester City Council.
Their contract was bought by Mears a decade ago—and they want the same pay as those who work directly for Northwards, a difference of up to £140 a week.
And after 27 days of strikes last year, workers at IT firm Fujitsu were set to walk out again this week.
Bosses have now sacked four out of six reps who were leading the fight against job losses, including one who had an outgoing sexual harassment complaint.
Dismissed rep Ian Allinson said bosses have threatened to take away staff bonuses for the whole year if they take any part in strikes.
He described workers’ reactions as “some feel it’s bullying, but it shows how important the dispute is.
“We need to redouble our efforts to raise money for the strikers.”
Ian says Friday’s strike rally is “very important”.
“There’s relatively little media coverage of our dispute and we’re trying to connect up our three disputes and give each other mutual support,” he said. “We’ve visited each other’s picket lines but solidarity is a lot easier when a significant number of strikers have met each other.”
And Ian said meeting up with other strikers had the effect of “reinforcing to people what they’re doing really matters, and they’re right to do it”.