Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/15707
Bus strike in Plymouth
Steve Merritt, Plymouth Socialist Party
First Group bus drivers and engineers staged another 24-hour strike on 15th November protesting about management's unacceptable position of not giving workers a backdated pay rise.
Management from First Group has stalled since the beginning of April to meet the demands of drivers and engineers for an increase in their wage.
The RMT union and management have agreed terms but management still refuses to backdate the workers' pay from the time of the original grievance.
A 24-hour strike last month on 26th October did not make the management consider the needs of their workers.
The RMT branch number 5 has once again decided to support its members by having to take industrial action in order for them to be paid a living wage.
In the year to 31 March, First Group saw revenues rise to £6.7 billion from £6.4 billion and pre-tax profits jump to £280 million from £126 million.
Shareholders and managers receive their bonuses and payouts but once again we see the greed of big business and the increasing divide between the workers on the front line being paid little, with bonuses for those at the top on the increase.
Phil Easby, Shop Steward at RMT branch number 5 said:
"There is overwhelming support for this industrial action, not only in Plymouth but across Devon and Cornwall.
"Although management and the union have agreed terms, the company has deferred and stalled for so long that they will only give us our pay rise from December.
"Our members do not accept this as we started fighting for this back in April. We have had tremendous support, with 90-95% of RMT members at various depots supporting this industrial action".
Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT, on an earlier visit to Plymouth said: "After the magnificent support for the strike action at the end of October we would have hoped that First Devon and Cornwall management would have come forward with an offer aimed at reaching a solution to this dispute over pay justice.
"The refusal to honour back pay deliberately watered down the value of the deal and that penny-pinching has led us back into strike action this week.
"The strength of feeling amongst the staff remains as strong as it ever was and the determination to secure a fair deal is rock solid amongst the bus workers.
"First Devon and Cornwall must recognise that and get round the table with us to sort out a deal that properly rewards this key group of transport staff without unacceptable strings and conditions".
Supporters of Plymouth National Shop Stewards Network and members of Plymouth Socialist Party showed support to our fellow workers struggling for a decent living wage.
We will continue to fight for the needs of workers and are calling on the TUC to organise a general strike against austerity and to protect wages, conditions and pensions of the working class.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 15 November 2012 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.