Socialist Worker

£8 an hour must be the minimum wage at First Bus

by Stewart Crehan
Issue No. 1972

Some 300 drivers for First Bus in north Staffordshire and south Cheshire, based in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme, took 24 hour strike action on Friday of last week over pay.

Another strike was planned for Friday this week, which will go ahead unless talks at arbitration service Acas deliver a settlement.

The drivers, who are members of the T&G union, voted to strike after receiving a pay offer of only 3.5 percent on the £6.60 an hour they currently earn.

Around 90 percent of members voted in favour of the action, demanding parity with rates that First Bus pays elsewhere in the country.

The feeling is that the company is taking advantage of the fact that north Staffordshire is a “low-wage area”.

Drivers in Norfolk and Suffolk last week won £8 an hour from the company after taking strike action — the most recent of a series of wins over pay by drivers for the company.

The £8 an hour figure should be the absolute minimum across the company and is clearly becoming something of a benchmark among union activists when they are considering their pay campaigns.

The Staffordshire strike was 100 percent effective with only one driver, who is not a member of the T&G, reporting for work.

Union pickets who were visible during the strike also carried placards opposing New Labour’s policy on pensions.

Neil Salter, the T&G union’s regional organiser, said members would continue to take action until they felt they had a fair pay offer.

“We want to negotiate a deal and we are determined to see this through to the bitter end,” he said.

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Sat 15 Oct 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1972
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