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24 November 2017

North West: drivers and housing workers escalate strike wave

Becci Heagney, Manchester Socialist Party

Workers' disputes currently taking place in the north west, particularly in Manchester, are becoming increasingly bitter.

Mears housing workers are a couple of weeks into their programme of 49 days of strike action and the company is attempting to show strength through denying that the solid action is having an effect.

It is being forced to use sub-contractors in order to make sure that work is done and is not informing tenants that the strike is taking place. This is unsustainable and costly for Mears.

Workers are holding picket lines morning and afternoon four days a week and are preparing to step up the pressure on Manchester city councillors and Greater Manchester metro-mayor Andy Burnham.

They have support from workers employed directly by the council who are refusing to cross picket lines in some cases.

Meanwhile First bus drivers in Rusholme, having walked out every Monday since the beginning of October are now escalating their action to every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

This is to show that they are serious and to force the company into negotiations but also to make it harder for First to 'bus' in scab drivers - managers from elsewhere who are being put up for the night in hotels in Manchester.

There are also rumours that other First depots in Manchester are preparing to ballot over issues like holiday pay.

At the same time, Arriva North West bus drivers - striking in Wythenshawe in Manchester but also at ten other depots across the region - have announced a massive escalation of strike action in December.

They, similarly to First, have been striking every Monday but now will strike on 4,7,12,13,14,20,21,22 and 23 December.

Unite the union correctly described pay talks with Arriva as an 'insult' after it offered an increase of 1p an hour!

The Socialist Party in Manchester is hosting a solidarity meeting on Tuesday 5th December, at 7pm, in the Britons Protection pub, Great Bridgewater Street, M1 5LE.

We have invited speakers from all of the disputes, as well as the union members themselves, to build support for their individual campaigns but also to help build unity and coordination between the multiple strikes taking place across the city.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 24 November 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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