Scores of striking Go North West bus drivers massed outside the company’s Queens Road depot in Manchester yesterday, on the first day of their indefinite strike against the firm’s plan to ‘Fire and Rehire’ the entire workforce on much lower pay.
The privateer is seeking to impose massive £2,500 pay cuts on its 400 drivers and Unite members.
‘This dispute is about the company imposing a new code of employment on its workers,’ said Unite North West regional coordinator, Lawrence Chapple-Gill.
‘Having spent some considerable time talking to the union about measures that could turn our situation around – they then walked away from the talks.
‘These talks were of a collaborative nature and we had made offers worth over a million pounds to contribute towards the turn around plan, we were therefore staggered to be told then by the company they were withdrawing from the talks, appointing employees on a one-to-one basis without allowing them to be accompanied by a union rep – and basically giving them notice that if they didn’t sign the new contract it would mean their dismissal.
‘They have not reached agreement with us collectively and they are not prepared to compromise – they basically want everything.
‘As a trade union we can’t accept that, and it has resulted in our voting by an 82% majority in favour of a strike – and as you can see, we are very determined.
‘You can now see the extent to which it has gone: they are utilising non-union bus employees to undermine the dispute.
‘If they spent as much time and money resolving the dispute rather than undermining it, maybe we could get somewhere.
‘In order to resolve this, they must tear up “Fire and Rehire” and reach a collective settlement with us.’
- Drivers employed by the RATP bus privateer are resuming strike action at eight garages in London this week.
Unite members at Harrow bus garage in north west London are striking again on Wednesday, while drivers at the other garages are coming out on Friday and Saturday.
Driver and Unite member at Shepherd’s Bush garage, Cristophe Trine told News Line on Saturday: ‘They sent every driver a letter telling us we face a further £2,000 pay cut this year and warning us that if we choose to strike “we are legally entitled to sack you after twelve weeks”.
‘This letter came just before we had the strike ballot to try to intimidate us, but we still voted 96% to strike.
‘We share the same mess room at White City with Metroline and I know they will definitely vote for strike action against remote sign-on which the company is trying to impose.
‘If they were to succeed in imposing it, then all the other companies would follow suit and bring it in.
‘The union must unite all the struggles, organise national strike action and fight for nationalisation of the entire bus network.’