Socialist Worker

Escalate bus fightbacks in Manchester and London

by Sam Ord
Issue No. 2750

Standing firm in Manchester

Standing firm in Manchester (Pic: Unite North West )


Bus drivers at Go North West in Manchester are battling on against a brutal employer assault.

Around 400 workers in the Unite union began an all-out strike on 28 February to stop a fire and rehire attack on pay and conditions.

Bosses are imposing new contracts to work longer hours on the same pay, ­costing them lost wages of up to £2,500 a year. The alternative is to be sacked.

It’s an important battle not just for the workers ­themselves but also for many more who are watching the outcome.

Last week strikers were joined by members of the FBU firefighters’ union who had come to show their support for dousing bosses’ fire and rehire plans.

In the seventh week of strikes, workers remain determined to win. But managers are also determined. Escalation is necessary.

There could, for example, be pickets by the whole trade union movement and strike supporters of depots where scab services are being run by private operators.

Savings

Unite north west regional secretary Ritchie James said recently, “Unite has tried to resolve this dispute through negotiations and put forward over £1.3 million of savings proposals.

“But Go North West deemed this insufficient.” Instead of offering cuts, Unite has to spread the fight.

Meanwhile, in west and south London bus drivers for outsourced bus ­operating company RATP on the London United fleet have been striking over attacks on pay and conditions.

Two weeks ago the Stamford Brook and Hounslow Heath garages, voted to join the strike ­meaning all seven of London United’s garages are on strike.

The dispute is over bosses’ plans to cut pay despite RATP having an annual turnover of over £4.3 billion.

London United drivers will continue to strike every Wednesday.

Alongside this, over 4,000 drivers for bus operator Metroline in London have voted for strikes over plans to introduce a “remote sign on” system.

This means drivers do not report to a depot, but start work elsewhere, such as a bus stop. The system raises concerns over conditions and increased driving hours.

Support for Manchester strike via bit.ly/GNWstrike

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