By Sam Ord
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Striking Arriva bus workers expect reinforcements

This article is over 1 years, 9 months old
Bus services in West Yorkshire are at standstill as strikers stand firm in pay battle
Issue 2811
Drivers in West Yorkshire strike against bus bosses

An Arriva bus in Leeds. Arriva bus drivers in Yorkshire were on strike this week (Pic: Ian Roberts/Wikimedia Commons)

Striking Arriva bus workers in West Yorkshire remain strong as they enter their fourth week of all out strike. The 650 members of Unite walked out after rejecting a 4.1 percent pay offer. And, they have remained on the picket lines after rejecting an offer of between 8 and 12 percent, depending on their grade.

With inflation at 11.7 percent, workers are right to reject what for most would be a real terms pay cut. New bus drivers at Arriva Yorkshire are paid just 29 pence above minimum wage. That rises to just £12.15 after three years.

Negotiations remain on hold as workers refuse to back down. Many areas, including Wakefield, have strong picket lines with over 50 strikers on them.  They have received support from other unions, such as the Bfawu bakers’ union and the teachers’ NEU.

The strike involves all Arriva workers, including engineers and drivers, and has also hit depots in Castleford, Dewsbury, Heckmondwike and Selby. Arriva bosses say, “We continue to take all responsible steps to find a way to resolve this strike”.

The most “responsible” step would be to give an above inflation pay deal. This is not an unrealistic demand, Arriva’s parent company—DB Group—increased its profits by over 18 percent in 2021 to more than £40 billion. It also grabbed large Covid subsidies from the government. Arriva Yorkshire strikers are now looking forward to joining with around 1,800 colleagues from across the north west of England.

The north west drivers have begun a strike ballot after also rejecting a low pay offer. Unite regional officer Phil Bown, said, “I’ve got bus drivers here who are working 40 to 50 hours a week and can’t afford to live. Some of them are going to food banks to subsidise their income.”

Both sets of strikers should be wary of a negotiated settlement that is far below what is needed to match the rising cost of living. That’s what happened at Arriva London South where after three days of strikes, the dispute was settled with a pay rise of just 3.5 percent and a one-off payment of £250. Keeping up the strikes and spreading them to involve more workers is the best way to win.


 

♦Some 370 bus drivers and engineers employed by Stagecoach in Merseyside have suspended their strike planned to start this week. The workers’ Unite union will now ballot members on a revised offer.  However, officials warned that if this offer is rejected, then strikes planned for Monday 4 July will go ahead. Any such strike will cause severe disruption and delays to buses that operate from the Gillmoss depot in Liverpool. The drivers currently earn just £12.69 an hour.

♦Bus drivers employed by Stagecoach in Worthing, Sussex, have won a pay rise worth 15.8 percent. The deal was accepted by 96 percent of workers before the drivers struck.

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