By Sam Ord
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Back bus workers’ pay fights + Transport battles

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No to pay deals that are less than the RPI rate of inflation
Issue 2827
20 or so bus workers on strike with Unite union red flags and a large banner saying "Stagecoach pay up"

Hull bus workers’ pickets are in a confident mood (Picture: Sharon Graham on Twitter)

Bus workers are ­fighting a series of key battles over pay against profit-hungry bosses. Some 250 Stagecoach bus workers in Hull remain on all-out strike after walking out on 7 October.

After rejecting an 8.7 ­percent pay increase, the Unite union members plan to remain on the picket lines until 29 December to win an inflation-busting pay rise.

Unite union branch chair Leigh Barker told Socialist Worker, “We’re in good ­spirits and are getting lots of support from the public.”

Stagecoach is the largest bus operating company in Britain. Its profits for the second half of 2021 more than ­doubled to £33 million. There’s plenty of money to meet the workers’ demands of £13 an hour—a 16.7 ­percent rise. 

One Unite member told Socialist Worker the strike is “absolutely solid” and that “if we stay strong, we will win”. Another added, “There is an upbeat mood” on the picket line. But he explained that management had been trying to intimidate the strikers. 

Workers are angry that their wages have fallen far behind their Stagecoach ­co-workers in other parts of Britain. Drivers in Merseyside earn £14 an hour, while Hull drivers earn just £11.14. 

Workers in Hull hope their strike will become a catalyst for other bus workers who face low pay and poor ­conditions to organise and fight back.

In Somerset and Cornwall bus workers in the RMT union employed by First Group plan to strike for three more days in a fight for better pay and conditions.

The 400 workers are set to mount picket lines on Friday followed by the 4 and 11 November. Many of the ­drivers are paid just over £11 an hour and bosses only offered a small uprate to £12 an hour. 

This is despite First Group having an operating profit of £226 million.

Workers employed by Arriva in Kent have called off strikes for this week “as an act of goodwill” following a new pay offer.

If the latest offer is rejected then strikes scheduled for Monday to Friday next week are set to go ahead

In London over 2,500 workers employed by Metroline have rejected a pay rise of as little as 5.5 percent and are balloting for strikes.

The ballot will close on 11 November with Unite ­claiming action could begin before December.

Some Metroline bus ­drivers are paid as little as £12.35 an hour. 

The company is owned by ComfortDelGro who, in the first half of 2022, made £156 million in operating profits.

And the GMB union has announced two new strike dates in the Sunderland Stagecoach battle. Almost 200 bus drivers will take part in 24-hour walkouts on 28 and 31 October. 

Stagecoach offered a massive real-terms pay cut of just a 4 percent “rise”, with 2 percent to follow later in the year.

  • Solidarity messages for Hull strikers to Kris Allen, branch secretary [email protected]

A ferry big fightback

The Woolwich Ferry, which links east and south east London, could come to a standstill as workers plan to strike for five days from Monday of next week.

The Unite union members are angry that Transport for London (TfL) is refusing to negotiate pay.

TfL took over operations of the service in December, 2020. But since then allegations of victimisation and unfair suspensions have risen.

Alongside that workers say the ferry relies too much on agency staff, undermining safety. As a result, 87 percent of workers voted to strike.

  • Donate to the strike fund, Account number, 20267438, Sort code, 60-83-01.

Stop on the Tyne coming

Over 50 Tyne and Wear Metro engineers could strike after rejecting a 4 percent pay offer. An overtime ban began last Friday but workers are yet to announce strike dates.

The Unite union says the service is reliant on overtime working so the action will have a large impact. Parent company, Stadler made £119 million profit in 2021.

The year before it won a £300 million contract to build 42 trains, rebuild a depot and maintain the train stock for 35 years.

Instead of a proper rise, the company insultingly offered workers a one‑off payment of £1,000.

West Midlands Metro strikes begin, and there are plenty more to come

Over 175 tram workers on the West Midlands Metro struck on Saturday in their battle over pay. It was the first of 52 planned days of walkouts until 5 January.

Tram drivers and customer representatives who are members of the Unite union are fighting for a minimum pay rate of £27,000 a year—an increase of over 25 percent. Other workers on the tram network are demanding a £5,000 annual pay rise. 

Dozens of workers mounted two picket lines in Wednesbury in the Black Country waving placards reading, “Fair pay now.” 

Some of the workers are the lowest-paid tram operators in the country. As a result, they voted 86 percent for strikes on an 84 percent turnout.

On the picket lines they were joined by activists from local Unite Community branches who held posters reading, “We support our Midlands metro workers.”

Drivers and customer representatives were right to reject a £25,250 pay offer and others rejected just a 5.25 percent offer—a real terms pay cut.

Bosses have built a skeleton service during strike days. It has safety implications for workers and passengers alike. 

Supervisors will operate the vehicles alongside trainers and some control staff. These workers have received only rudimentary or refresher training on driving the metro service. 

Striking workers are also concerned that the service will operate without conductors—another possible safety risk.

  • For a full list of strike dates go to The main picket line assembles at Great Western Street, Wednesbury WS10 7LH between 8am and 5pm.

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