Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/587/7517
The Socialist 7 July 2009 |
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First Bus - no to pay freeze
EARLIER THIS year Unite, the union which represents thousands of bus drivers across the country, was told by First Bus that they were imposing a pay freeze on all its bus subsidiaries.
A bus worker
Here at our depot, First South Yorkshire, we held our initial pay talks in March. But we were offered nothing! This seems consistent with the economic crisis. But dig deeper and the facts tell a different story.
This year, First Bus announced triumphantly to the City that it had bucked the trend of other multinational companies and increased its profits.
Last year the company made £124 million profit. This year its profits were £134 million, an increase of 11% -a company hardly suffering from the recession. Passenger revenue was up by over 7% by First's own figures.
To add insult to injury, First has just announced it is making a bid to buy National Express - a company struggling from losing the east coast train line and proving how useless private companies are at operating our railway system (see above).
First have bid around £500 million for National Express, hardly the actions of a company too cash-strapped to pay its drivers.
And so, here in South Yorkshire we balloted for industrial action and got a 77% 'yes' vote to strike. This follows results already in from North Essex, where 74% voted in favour of action, and in South Essex with 91% in favour.
Our strike will be on 10 July, just for one day to start. We are waiting for our comrades from other depots to catch us and our comrades in Essex and Chester up with their ballots. We will then co-ordinate a national strike.
This will hopefully show these greedy private profiteers that they cannot cry poverty to their hard-working employees while bragging to the city how well they are doing!