Bus drivers in the T&G union at Eastbourne Buses struck for 24 hours on Tuesday of last week for better pay.
Drivers at the company are currently paid £7.80 an hour in contrast to drivers at other bus companies in the south west of England who are already paid £9 an hour.
T&G regional industrial organiser Sharon Wentworth told Socialist Worker, “Drivers picketed major depots from 4am until 9pm. Over 120 strikers joined the picket lines over the course of the day. The strike was very solid. The response from the public was brilliant.”
Unlike many bus companies that have been privatised, Eastbourne Buses is still run by the local council. It was the first municipal bus company in Britain. This is the first time that staff have taken strike action in the 100 years of the company. Drivers feel that they are fighting for the future of the service as well as for better pay.
“Our members feel they and the travelling public are being taken for granted as they see a company that was once a good employer and served the public well slowly run into the ground,” said Sharon Wentworth.
“The staff at Eastbourne buses have had enough of what they see as a bullying style of management. Staff are leaving in their droves.”
She explained that drivers had rejected an offer that management claimed was worth £8.11. “In actual fact, the offer would not have meant any more money as drivers were being asked to give up paid breaks.
“Our experience with other bus companies is that when they introduce unpaid breaks, they follow this up with split shifts, meaning drivers often waiting at depots for several hours without being paid.”
A second one day strike planned for Tuesday of this week was suspended pending further talks.