The Socialist 21 September 2011
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Bus workers force management climb-down
During August, National Express West Midlands (NXWM) bosses informed drivers at its nine garages that practically all local agreements would be torn up from 25 September.
This would involve, among other things, getting rid of paid breaks, travelling time and scrapping shorter shifts on Sundays.
This follows the last pay deal, which centred on a way-below-inflation 2% a year for two years pay increase, which was accepted on the understanding that local agreements would be left alone.
NXWM is one of the biggest bus operators in the country with operations stretching from Coventry to Wolverhampton and employs around 3,750 drivers.
For certain drivers these planned changes would mean three to four hours extra work during some weeks, for no extra pay.
However to their credit the Unite union Traffic Negotiating Committee immediately organised garage meetings which attracted very sizable turnouts of drivers who reacted with horror and anger at the management's plans and voted overwhelmingly for strike action.
The company immediately backed down and informed the union at a meeting on 25 August that following the reaction of the drivers the changes were now off the table, although they still intend to somehow make over £20 million of savings.
An additional 'bonus' is the recent shock resignation of NXWM unpopular managing director, Dave Kaye, for 'personal reasons'.
During his time at the company fares have risen by 9.5% with services cut by 3%, while according to the Birmingham Mail profits have soared to over £80,000 a day! After less than a year in the job surely these 'personal reasons' don't have anything to do with promising to take on the drivers and ending up walking away with his tail between his legs?
This episode has proved decisively to drivers the power that we hold in our hands and the importance of being organised.
In this issue
Building for 30 November strike
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news