‘WE WILL STRIKE WITH NURSES!’ say Manchester bus strikers

Striking bus drivers at Shepherd’s Bush garage on the fifth day of their strike action against £2,500 wage cuts

‘THE SUPPORT has been amazing,’ striker Peter Gleaves told News Line at the Queens Road Depot in Manchester yesterday, where Go North West bus drivers have entered their second week of strike action against fire and rehire.

‘Obviously we have been out for a week, more than a week … but what is so amazing is moral is so massively high. People are changing, they are not working they are coming out now and the support has been ongoing.

‘The nurses are supporting us now, after the disgraceful way they have been treated, they are amazing. Amazing, that they have the time to support other causes like ours – we were all gobsmacked to be honest.

‘They are supporting us and donated money to us – with all they’re going through, they came here on their way to a rally in their support in the city centre, where they went to speak.

‘As for talks on our strike – they are starting talks, but it’s ACAS talks. The company’s never been negotiating, from the outset. They never did really want middle ground, the company.  They are only “exploratory talks”.

‘Not a lot has changed – except that we are getting more and more support here every day. People are joining us, and we are also getting more and more people out every day.’

And in fact, as they spoke to News Line, another section of the strikers headed to Manchester City centre where a rally was set to take place in support of the nurses, while sections of the strike force had also set out earlier, down to St Peter’s Square, Manchester to give support to the nurses.

In London, bus drivers employed by the French government-owned privateer RATP were on their fifth day of strike action against £2,500 wage cuts involving worse terms and conditions on Saturday.

Edmund Shoderu, Unite rep at Stamford Brook, on a lively picket line at Park Royal, told News Line: ‘We were not part of this round of strike action because of a stupid “irregularity” but we are reballoting for the next round beginning on 17th March. Bus drivers and nurses have both been working through the pandemic to keep the UK running. Privatised companies are treating us like rubbish, while directors working from home are getting pay rises, we have been working night and day on the frontline. We have lost many colleagues from the virus.’

Gary Scripps, Unite rep at Park Royal in west London said: ‘We will strike with nurses. This is the time to have everyone out.’

At Shepherd’s Bush garage, striker Robert Moore said: ‘Nurses have put their lives on the line. They have looked after us so they have to be rewarded for what they are doing.’

Driver Francisco Gallardo said: ‘Nurses have seen and had to do difficult things, working in harsh conditions. Clapping only makes people feel good, but nurses have been risking their lives.’

On the picket line at Fulwell Garage in Twickenham, Tim Parkes said: ‘We’ve had what they’re doing in Manchester happen to us as well – management coming out to film our picket and he wasn’t even trying to hide himself! Then he came out later to take photos of us. It’s disgusting. Some of the top directors got a 100% pay rise and they’re giving us a £2,500 pay cut.’

Jasper Gill said: ‘The union should call national strike action now. Divide and rule is the British policy abroad and they are doing it at home now. We are striking again on 17th March. We want all-out action to win.’

At Hounslow garage, Ahmed Naseer said: ‘We are all bus drivers but employed by different companies on different rates. All drivers should be on the same contract and same pay. We want national strike action now.’