Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/358/5904
On The Road To Victory
THE INDEFINITE strike by 1,500 South Yorkshire First bus drivers, members of the transport union TGWU, is now into its third week. In a postal ballot, drivers rejected the last company offer by 723-502 votes.
This strike has forced First to agree to backdate the 30p an hour pay rise. But now they want to take the first day's sickness pay off drivers. In an industry in which long hours, stress, verbal and physical abuse are the norm, this is something drivers can ill afford to lose. Instead the union wants a reduction in the working week with no strings attached.
Olive Grove (Sheffield) pickets will be boosted by a visit from the TGWU national transport officer and convenors from other First group companies. Martin Mayer, TGWU branch secretary, told the socialist: "This is fast becoming the longest-running continuous strike in the bus industry for 30 years. It seems that First group want to make an example of us. But they are not going to be able to bully us. The strike remains solid. We're on the road to victory."
Pressure is mounting on the company. They're losing money and with the smaller rival bus company Terrier increasing pay rates by 35p an hour they will lose more drivers as well. Management who had threatened to bring in scabs now want to bring in ACAS but the union has rejected this as a delaying tactic.
Socialist Party members have consistently supported the picket lines. Our collections for the strike fund, £267 so far, have been very well received. Despite the inconvenience, public support remains high. We've found people are shocked that bus drivers only earn £5.85 an hour. A placard at Halfway depot simply says: "First driver £5.85. KFC £6.25."
In The Socialist 7 August 2004:
Socialist Party news and analysis