Drivers at First Bus in Leeds have voted for strikes over pay.
Unite union members there have voted by 86 percent for action against the company’s attempts to impose a national pay freeze. They will walk out on Monday of next week and again on the two following Saturdays.
There is clearly a mood for a fightback on the buses – but there are also warning signs that union leaders may allow the anger to be derailed.
The Leeds action follows a series of successful and well-supported strikes by First workers at different depots across Britain.
But each dispute has hit a stumbling block, with the union suspending action or recommending a deal that includes a pay freeze.
In Bolton, Bury and Wigan, First Bus drivers have struck repeatedly. They recently overturned the union’s recommendation by throwing out the latest pay offer.
But many drivers are getting increasingly frustrated waiting to hear when their programme of strikes will be reinstated.
In Essex, strike action has been suspended for talks at Acas.
And at First Centre West and First Capital East in London, drivers have voted for strikes, but the union has called only action short of strikes this side of Christmas.
Local bargaining has made national co-ordinated strikes more difficult, but union activists have made a good start by trying to link up the battle at First.
Yet there is a real danger that the union’s momentum could be lost.
Rank and file bus workers and union activists must make sure that the mood to fight is not wasted.
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