MANCHESTER, England — Bus drivers at Go North West here went on strike Feb. 28 after bosses tried to impose a new contract with longer working hours for the same pay.
The company insisted workers individually sign the contract, bypassing their union, Unite, and threatened to fire workers who refused. Bosses claim that 393 out of the 474 drivers “volunteered” to accept the new terms. The company also plans to reduce sick pay and cut the number of drivers by 10%.
“This is the first day. Everyone is signing up for picketing times. Spirits are high!” Unite’s Regional Coordinating Officer Lawrence Chapple-Gill told the Militant. “We’re organizing a food kitchen and others have come to donate. We’re also setting up a sound system.”
The company is subcontracting its routes to other bus and coach companies in an attempt to break the strike.
“Their class stands together and so must working people and our unions,” Peter Clifford told bus drivers when he visited the picket line Feb. 28 to support their fight. Clifford is the Communist League candidate for Greater Manchester mayor and a member of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union. “We need the broadest solidarity to beat back their attacks.”
Train driver Aled Lloyd-Morris joined Clifford on the picket line.
“Workers in other industries need to be vigilant too,” he told the Militant. “This ‘fire and rehire’ is the thin end of the wedge,” he said, referring to bosses who fire workers when they refuse to sign up to worse conditions and are then offered their old job back on the bosses’ terms.