Go North East bus strike
Go North East bus strike

Elaine Brunskill, Newcastle Socialist Party

Bus drivers, engineers and admin staff working for Go North East are taking an initial two separate weeks of strike action, with picket lines in bus depots across the region. At the Washington picket line, strikers took a slow walk down the approach road to the depot, which had buses driven by bosses moving at a snail’s pace. Of course, this was all in the interest of safety.

The union Unite points out that workers have been forced into strike action following the failure of Go North East to come back to the negotiating table with an improved pay offer, even though bus drivers in the north east are amongst the lowest paid in the Go-Ahead Group. Unite also highlights the latest accounts from the Go-Ahead Group, which show profits of nearly £85 million – it could easily afford to pay its workers fairly.

Across the region, the Go North East picket lines have been very well attended, with hundreds of strikers showing they are determined to fight for a better deal. Strikers at the Washington depot told us that public support has been phenomenal. Alongside passing vehicles tooting, they’ve had people come up to make donations to their strike fund. This included “an elderly gentleman who gave us a tenner to buy us a cuppa”. Someone else from a local business brought fish and chips for them.

Strikers also spoke about the support they’ve had from Unite under the leadership of Sharon Graham. One striker commented, “We’ve got the union behind us, which is a huge boost to members”.