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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 January 2019

Solid strike by Arriva bus drivers

Arriva bus strike picket line in Darlington, photo Unite

Arriva bus strike picket line in Darlington, photo Unite   (Click to enlarge)

650 bus drivers, members of Unite the Union employed by Arriva, commenced a week-long strike on 6 January in a dispute over low pay. Drivers based at Darlington, Durham, Redcar and Stockton believe they are the second-lowest paid Arriva bus drivers in the country.

The drivers are seeking a 1-an-hour pay rise to bring them in line with other bus drivers. After protracted negotiations they have overwhelmingly rejected a pay offer of 75p an hour to be phased in over two years in four instalments.

Arriva County Durham Ltd made about 5 million in profit last year but are claiming they can't afford the pay rise of 1 per hour.

Arriva bosses, instead, have embarked on spreading disinformation about pay and are trying to break the strike by running a handful of free bus services and colluding with other transport operators, including their own Northern Rail, to accept Arriva bus passes and free travel for concessionary pass holders on rail services.

Despite this, there is strong support for the strike from the public and this is reflected on social media.

RMT guards at Northern Rail, who are involved in a long running dispute over Driver Only Operation and are also striking every Saturday against Northern Rail's owner Arriva, send their message of solidarity to the Arriva bus workers.

The response from the bus drivers is a massive turnout of hundreds of strikers on the picket lines. Morale is high!

Privatisation

Bus drivers outside of London suffered pay cuts when the buses were deregulated and privatised from the former municipal and nationalised companies in the 1980s. Bus drivers' salaries have not recovered.

Since then the bus industry has been reconfigured and is now controlled by a handful of multinational companies. Arriva is owned by Deutsche Bahn, which in turn is 100% owned by the German government who run it as a profit making enterprise.

Privatisation has led to a massive decline in bus services, bus use, and to a lack of transport planning to provide services to meet people's needs. Good public transport is also essential in the fight against climate change.

The public transport industry needs to be renationalised by the British central and devolved governments, and democratised by its control being passed to the trade unions, elected local authorities, and its passengers.

Nationalisation would also allow the reintroduction of national pay bargaining to pay workers a decent wage and end regional disparities.

Alan Docherty, Teesside Socialist Party

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
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In The Socialist 9 January 2019:


What we think

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Far right attack on Manchester rail workers' picket line - trade union fightback needed

Grayling's attacks on rail workers wages 'un-fare'

Solid strike by Arriva bus drivers

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German revolution 100 years on

Heroic martyrs of German Revolution


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Bringing socialist ideas into movements on women's rights

Tremendous effort sees Socialist Party smash fighting fund target in 2018

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Linking LGBT+ rights to the fight for socialism

North Tyneside Campaigning to save our footbridge

Carmarthenshire council: Unison demands no-cuts budget


International socialist news and analysis

Protests continue to rage in Sudan

Blocked for years, but the Socialist Party of Nigeria is now standing in elections


Opinion

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