RATP busworkers reject ‘fire and rehire’ deal

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Striking bus workers on the picket line at Hounslow Heath garage – they won't accept 'fire & rehire'

THE UNITE leadership yesterday failed to get a ‘fire and rehire’ deal accepted by RATP bus workers.

The vote at seven West London bus garages showed that 652 workers voted to reject and the same number voted to accept, with three spoiled papers – meaning that the proposal agreed between Unite and RATP failed.

The dispute with the fire and rehire French company is now to continue.

RATP is seeking to cut the pay and conditions of around 2,000 drivers at the garages to the tune of £2,500 per annum and after 12 days of strike action, a deal was struck on Saturday, with Unite calling off this Monday’s planned strike.

The company insisted that the union must recommend the deal to its members and the ballot was held in the seven garages the day before yesterday, on Thursday this week, with the union recommending acceptance.

As a result of the tie, Unite is going to hold another ballot in the garages next Wednesday, with exactly the same question on the ballot to try once again to get its deal with RATP accepted.

Fulwell Garage driver and Unite member Nissanka Gunnawardesane told News Line yesterday: ‘It’s a rotten deal and I’m glad it’s not being accepted.

‘It would be a major pay cut and we don’t want it. When people look at the result of the ballot result I hope there will be a much bigger no vote next time.’

Hounslow Heath Garage driver and Unite member Zahid Bashir said: ‘Everyone should vote “no” next Wednesday.

‘We must make sure that Hounslow Heath votes no next week. It’s not worth it, it’s a rotten deal.

‘We have had powerful strike action and we want to come out on strike altogether with drivers on Metroline. The buses must be renationalised.’

Hounslow town bus garage driver and Unite member Ramesh Sood said: ‘The company is trying to cut our pay and conditions and we can’t let them get away with it.’

Unite members are in favour of Unite calling national strike action to defeat fire and rehire, and demanding that the Johnson government resigns so that the entire bus industry can be renationalised, and put under workers management.

A new poll organised by the Unite union has shown that seven in ten of those asked back a ban on bosses’ and privateer bus firms’ using ‘bully-boy fire and rehire’ tactics against strikers.

The public want ‘fire and rehire’ banned, according to the Unite poll which has been issued ahead of May Day. Some seven in ten people (70 per cent) say that the controversial practice, whereby employers can rip up long established contracts and replace them with inferior ones and cut pay and conditions, should be made illegal.