Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1108/31592
From The Socialist newspaper, 4 November 2020
Optare strikers escalate their action
Optare strikers in Yorkshire October 2020, photo Iain Dalton (Click to enlarge)
Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party
At a meeting held on the picket line on 30 October, workers at bus manufacturer Optare in Sherburn in Elmet, Leeds voted to escalate their ongoing strike action in their long-running pay dispute from two days a week, to four days a week, starting from 16 November.
Two weeks into the strike, many of the deliveries coming into the workplace have been turned back at the request of the pickets. On the first day of the strike alone, 20 out of 21 deliveries did so. So while management has refused to budge at the negotiation table, they have started trying to reschedule deliveries for other days of the week. Additional cameras have been put up, and extra security hired in an attempt to intimidate pickets.
After having topped up workers' pay to 100% during furlough, and with a much-reduced demand for orders given the impact of Covid on public transport, the company claims that it can't afford more. However, Optare workers are paid less than other manufacturing workers, and the company has brought in increasing numbers of contractors, including bringing people into the workplace from Covid hotspots.
Optare's ultimate owners are the wealthy Hinduja brothers - the two of whom resided, in the UK, Sri and Gopi, topped the Sunday Times rich list in 2019 with an estimated £16 billion fortune between them.
Workers should demand the company open its books - and answer why workers can't be paid a wage comparable to other bus manufacturers if the company can afford to bring in increasing numbers of contractors.
If the current owners refuse to pay up, then Optare should be brought into public ownership to guarantee jobs. Even if orders are down now, investment in public transport will be vital to tackle the looming climate crisis, and publicly owned, democratically controlled bus manufacturing would be vital to develop a socialist plan for public transport.
Please send messages of support to the shop stewards via [email protected] and donations to the strike fund via bank transfer to
- Bank: Unity trust bank
- Account name: NE/200/1 Optare Branch
- Account number: 20327132
- Sort code: 60-83-01
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In The Socialist 4 November 2020:
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Furloughed worker speaks out: Let down by insecure contracts
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Birmingham NHS porters' 48-hour strike against shift changes
Optare strikers escalate their action
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Maybe now they will listen - Refund the fees!
Donate now to the Socialism 2020 appeal
Corbyn suspended: Join the fightback, join the socialists
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