By George Arthur
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Bus drivers in South Yorkshire strike for pay

More than 500 workers struck against unacceptable pay offers
Issue 2783
A large group of strikers stand on a picket line with flags and a cardboard 'solidarity bus'

The ‘solidarity bus’ joins strikers on the picket line (Picture: George Arthur)

Stagecoach drivers, engineers and cleaners in South Yorkshire started a week-long strike for pay last weekend.

After a number of unacceptable pay offers the 560 Unite members based in Sheffield, Barnsley and Rotherham voted overwhelmingly to walk out.

Large numbers turned out to the Barnsley picket line on Sunday, up against stormy, arctic weather conditions.

One of the strikers said, “Our wages are so poor that drivers have been leaving to work at Aldi where they get similar wages without the responsibility for passenger safety.”

Unite said Stagecoach has only offered its workers a low two percent pay rise, well below what the firm has offered employees in other areas of the country. The union has won 6.5, 7.5, and 10.5 percent deals in other Stagecoach disputes.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Low pay is the scourge of the bus industry right across this country.

“Stagecoach made profits touching £60 million last year and has £875 million in the bank. Yet it cannot make a decent offer to its staff.”

Supporters of Better Buses for South Yorkshire (BBSY) and Barnsley TUC turned out to give solidarity to the picketers.

Fran Postlethwaite from BBSY said, “It’s only by getting proper pay for drivers that we’ll stop services failing to turn up because there is a shortage of drivers.”

Elsewhere Unite warns of critical nationwide bus understaffing as waves of workers are leaving the low paid job to work elsewhere, such as HGV operators. The impact of Covid and potential upcoming attacks on pensions has also triggered some workers to take early retirement.

Unite Community members brought along a cardboard ‘Solidarity Bus,’ which toured around all the picket lines.

Unite regional officer Phil Bown said, “Bus workers were rightly hailed as heroes during successive lockdowns.

“However, warm words do not pay the bills and Stagecoach needs to reward its workers’ dedication with a decent pay award.”

Pickets were set to take place at all four bus depots in South Yorkshire every day until Saturday of this week.

Workers in Sheffield were also set to strike on Saturday of this week.

There is a determination among workers to step up the action if management does not improve their offer.

Messages of solidarity to [email protected]

Cambridgeshire drivers start ballot

Four hundred workers at Cambus Ltd in Cambridge, Peterborough and Fenstanton are balloting to strike over pay.

The drivers, engineers, cleaners and shunters haven’t had a pay rise since April 2019. The ballot started last week and will run until 16 December.

Cambus Ltd is part of the highly profitable Stagecoach bus company. Bosses only offered a 1.5 percent pay offer from April 2021 with a further 1.5 percent next month for the pay year 2021-22.

Workers refused this citing the six percent inflation figure as a major reason.

Unite regional officer Mark Plumb said, “Our members should not pay for the pandemic, while the employer has readily scooped up UK taxpayer support, including cash from the furlough scheme.

“The management is now threatening to come back in 2022 to further erode our members’ employment conditions—we won’t allow that to happen and strikes in the New Year are very much on the cards.”

Rail staff fed up

Caterers working on trains for Rail Gourmet have announced a new round of strikes in a fight for workplace justice.

The members of the RMT union are based at Edinburgh Waverley station, 

Workers have been taking action for many months as the company ignores abuse and bullying of staff.

They are demanding respect and justice in the workplace.

RMT members are now set to strike for three days from 6am on 31 December until 3 January.

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