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Arriva Northumbria bus workers fight for fair pay

Strike round up—Arriva and Abellio bus strikes of unite members plus suspended tram strikes
Issue 2898
Arriva picket line near Liverpool in July 2022
(Picture: @unitetheunion Twitter)

Unite members and Arriva drivers picket near Liverpool in July 2022 (Picture: @unitetheunion Twitter)

Over 300 workers at Arriva Northumbria in north east England are set to strike for seven days from Sunday of next week. They plan more strikes from 21 April.

Arriva drivers are the lowest paid out of the three main operators in Tyne and Wear, including Go North East and Stagecoach.

The Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Arriva is behaving appallingly given it made millions off the backs of our members and is about to be sold off to a private equity firm.”

Arriva is owned by multinational transport giant Deutsche Bahn. It is due to be sold soon to investment firm I Squared Capital.

A driver told the Northumberland Gazette that in addition to experienced drivers leaving for other companies, recently trained drivers are leaving to work in other industries.

The appeal they said is having more sociable hours, less responsibility, and similar pay as current wages are “not attracting them in or getting them to stay”.

Despite Arriva’s driver shortage the company continues to take on contracts for new bus routes, with two new Saturday services set to begin in Northumberland in March.

Arriva Northumbria drivers currently earn £14.15 per hour while Stagecoach drivers will be on £15.01 per hour from May 2024 and Go North East drivers will be on £14.83 per hour from July 2024.

Unite’s members are based at the Blyth and Ashington depots and strikes will affect multiple routes.

Some 1,300 Go North East drivers, in Unite, finished an indefinite strike for more pay at the beginning of this year.

Unite must make sure the bus workers support each other—and are boosted by national backing and coordination of disputes.

Step up solidarity so the controllers’ strikes bite

Around 40 Abellio bus strikers in London are still battling for more pay.

The workers control the bus routes, instruct drivers on traffic jams or accidents and ensure overall safety on the routes.

Bosses offered the workers just a 5 percent pay increase for 2023.

They already earn £10,000 per year less than similar staff at other bus companies and have been offered a smaller pay increase.

Controllers, managers and supervisors based at Battersea bus garage and Twickenham bus garage have held six strike days so far and planned to be out on Wednesday to Friday of this week.

Unite union regional officer Maxine Loza said, “Without these vital workers, buses don’t run on time and driver and passenger safety is jeopardised.

“Yet by refusing to come back with an improved offer, Abellio is showing just how little it values its staff.”

Bosses say the strikes don’t affect services. Unite should build solidarity to make the action bite.

Tram strikes cancelled after talks offer on £10,000 gap

The Unite union has suspended strikes by Croydon Tramlink engineers to hold talks with Transport for London (TfL).

Five days of strikes were set to begin last Sunday. Unite says if talks don’t lead to a deal, the engineers’ will strike from 5 to 9 May and 11 to 15 July.

Around 60 tram, stores and infrastructure engineers are angry that workers on the London Underground, who require the same qualifications and perform the same roles, are paid up to £10,000 more a year.

Workers are leaving Tramlink, which is causing staffing shortages.

Unite regional officer Bruce Swann said, “The entire employment situation of these workers is a mess. TfL needs to resolve the massive pay disparity and other issues, or this dispute will continue to escalate.”

Negotiations on this issue have gone on for five years but the pay TfL agreed last year to change the workers’ contracts but has failed to implement this commitment.

Unite should be ready to call strikes if talks fail. There would be a much better chance of victory if strikes had gone ahead.

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