By Tim Nicholls
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Weymouth bus drivers wait for a week of strikes then two come along at once

This article is over 5 years, 5 months old
Issue 2516
Bus drivers and supporters rally on the picket line at Weymouth’s bus depot on Monday
Bus drivers and supporters rally on the picket line at Weymouth’s bus depot on Monday (Pic: Councillor Tia Roos)

Weymouth bus workers returned to the picket line on Monday in their long-running dispute with First for pay parity with workers at the Yeovil depot. They are the lowest paid in First Group.

They had planned to strike for a full week—an escalation on the three days a week plus weekends they had struck previously.

But on Monday morning their union Unite announced it was extending it to a two-week strike, running until Monday 22 August.

The workers had previously planned to start their week-long walkout last week, but it was postponed following a legal challenge by bosses.

First has so far spent £400,000 on their scabbing operation. Their replacement drivers are being paid £25 an hour plus accommodation and food.

The local trades council, three Labour councillors and two Green councillors joined strikers at an enlarged picket line on Monday morning.

Unite branch secretary Simon told Socialist Worker, “Management are now saying we can only have 30 minute breaks between journeys. These are unpaid breaks, and the legal minimum. We get no paid breaks and we are stopped an hour and twenty minutes each day.”

He added, “Management say that they are running 90 percent of services—but no X54 to Poole, no X52 to Exeter and no earlies are running.”

First seems to be taking on a small depot as a test case for workers elsewhere. Victory is crucial.

Send messages of support to Dorchester, Weymouth & Portland TUC, via [email protected]
Send cheques payable to Unite branch SW/8161 to Unite the union, 238 Holdenhurst Rd, Bournemouth BH8 8EG

Will next bus dispute be Brighton?

Bus drivers and engineers in Brighton have voted for strikes against “draconian” management.

They accuse bosses at Brighton and Hove buses and its subsidiary Metrobus in Crawley of bullying, intimidation and covert surveillance.

Some 71 percent voted for strikes in a ballot by the Unite union. It is part of a wave of bus disputes around Britain which has seen walkouts in Leeds and Manchester and ballots in Glasgow and Yorkshire.

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