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Stagecoach bus drivers win victory
Stagecoach South Yorkshire bus drivers in Barnsley and Rotherham have won a significant victory in their fight for higher pay.
After a bitter four month dispute, in which over 300 drivers, members of Unite, took 12 days of strike action, Stagecoach were forced to accede to most of their demands.
By 251 votes to 35, drivers voted to accept an increase in their hourly rate to £9.05 an hour, with no strings attached and a lump-sum payment in lieu of back-pay from the annual settlement date of April.
Drivers were on £8.57 an hour and had a 2% rise imposed in November, taking them to £8.74. In effect, they have won a 5.6 % pay rise.
This is a victory against a company who brought in managers from around the country to run a strike-breaking operation on every strike day. While this meant that up to 80% of services ran, it was at considerable expense as not only wages but bonuses and hotel accommodation were paid to the scabs, and fares were slashed to £1 to try to keep passengers.
Because of the determination of the drivers (there were only a handful of local drivers who scabbed and it's reported that even some of them joined the last days of strike action) and the solidarity from other bus workers and trade unionists, Stagecoach could not afford to keep the strike-breaking operation up. So the bosses were forced to drop the strings and offer a lump sum in back-pay.
UCU Wales Congress
The Welsh section of the University and College Union, UCU Cymru, held its annual congress in Cardiff on 3 March. Delegates were eager to fight, not just on pensions, but on a wide range of other issues.
The elections for Wales officers returned an increased number of left activists including one Socialist Party member to Wales Council. Delegates then passed unanimously a call to build the fightback on pensions.
Members also rallied around a socialist-led move to halt a Labour-backed attempt to water down UCU Cymru's strong position on young workers. UCU is affiliated to Youth Fight for Jobs and demands job creation and a minimum wage of £8/hour.
During the congress the re-election of Sally Hunt as union general secretary was announced. Hunt has promised to slash the UCU national executive by half and circumvent it through more online, one-way "consultations", so the fight is on to defend union democracy.
Transport union RMT is to ballot for industrial action on Transport for London over a ban on staff leave for the duration of the Olympics and has also declared a formal dispute with London Underground (LU) over a failure to reach an agreement on Olympics recognition and reward payments for all LU staff.