SOME 40 striking bus workers, members of the TGWU, formed an excellent and lively picket line in Worthing, West Sussex, last Saturday morning-despite very cold and wet weather. The drivers were on a 12-hour strike over a derisory pay offer made to them by the Stagecoach company.
Striker John Ellis told Socialist Worker, 'We've had wonderful support from the public. Loads of motorists going by have sounded their horns, and it's been a very relaxed and friendly picket line! We've been really pleased with the solidarity and unity.'
The company's determination to beat the strike was shown by the fact they brought in scab drivers from other parts of the country, paying them more than the regular workers and putting them up in a £125 a night hotel.
Strikers estimate the scabbing operation will cost around £50,000, almost the same as the first year cost of funding the extra 50p per hour per worker that strikers are demanding.
A group of drivers brought in from Wales refused to work once they realised they would be scabbing on a strike. The strikers have two more 12-hour strikes planned unless management concede to their demands.
Striker Tony Cook told Socialist Worker, 'Our chances of winning are good. Support has been excellent. I'd say to other low paid workers around the country that they should join in and follow our lead.'
Kenny Wyatt said, 'It's the first time I've been on strike-the bosses are looking nervous. They didn't realise how many of us would be out here today. This shows we're not a pushover. We've been a pushover for years and years, but things are changing. Personally, I'll strike for as long as it takes. I'm not backing down. We're all losing money here. Some of us have kids and mortgages, but it doesn't matter. We're sticking together. Other depots have a strike fund for us-there's solidarity. Chichester depot might also be coming out in a couple of weeks. All it takes is one depot to came out first to prove a point. It happens to be Worthing this time.'
The bus strike has proved popular with the people who use the service, despite the disruption at Christmas. The local paper, the Worthing Herald, had several letters from local people supporting the strike. Supporters also brought a collection from Sussex University students.
LEE BILLINGHAM, BEN NEAL and JENNY SMITH
AROUND 600 staff at Trent Buses in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire struck for the second time last Saturday. They are also due to strike this Saturday over pay.
Drivers say that because the company is refusing to negotiate they have little option but to step up their action.
George Jameson from the TGWU union said, 'Drivers have had enough. They did not strike last year out of goodwill. This year they are up for it- they are in it for the long haul.'
DRIVERS working for Kinch Bus in Loughborough (which is part of the same group as Trent Buses) struck for the second time last week.
The dispute is over pay. The company has offered just 3.3 percent and has refused further talks while there is any 'threat' of strikes.
TGWU union regional organiser Peter Whipps said, 'We have offered negotiations but nothing has happened. We have been pushed into this situation.'
AROUND 1,200 Manchester bus workers are due to strike for three days from Saturday to Monday.
Staff working for Stagecoach, members of the TGWU union, voted to take action by 417 votes to 259.
Stagecoach management have offered a 7.1 percent pay rise-but it is spread over 18 months. Some officials in the TGWU have twice recommended that drivers accept the deal, but workers are determined to get a decent rise and a 12 month deal.
TONY HARPER, Leeds