Elaine Brunskill, Northern region Socialist Party

As we approached the GMB strikers, even before we could see them we could hear boos and shouts of “scab!”, as strikebreaking Stagecoach bosses drove buses past them.

In response to bosses, who complained at the use of the word ‘scab’, Gary Smith, GMB general secretary, who had visited the picket earlier, emphatically responded: “People who cross picket lines are scabbing!”

97% of Stagecoach drivers voted for strike action, on an 83% turnout, after being offered a derisory, below-inflation pay offer.

GMB organiser, Stuart Gilhespy, told the Socialist that, despite Stagecoach saying they would leave no stone unturned in order to settle the dispute, bosses have refused to sit down with the GMB and negotiate.

The atmosphere on the picket line was buoyant, despite some of them being there from 3.30am. The strikers told us that at 8am there were around 200 of them packed into the local pub to discuss their tactics. The meeting ended with them all stamping their feet; the mood was electric. One striker said he’d worked in this job for 45 years and had never known such militancy.

A common comment, starting with the first words from the very first striker we approached, was: “We need a general strike!”