Dave Beale, Lancashire Socialist Party
Bus driver Tracey Scholes has been reinstated at Go North West. The campaign won after supporters of Unite member Tracey were out in full force on 11 January to demand her reinstatement against the blind intransigence of management. Thousands also signed the petition calling for Tracey’s reinstatement, and over a thousand people wrote to the CEO of parent company Go Ahead.
Tracey faced dismissal from her job after the bus company repositioned its wing mirrors resulting in five-foot tall Tracey being physically unable to operate some buses. Following an appeal, Tracey still faced dismissal from her job unless she accepted losing five hours in pay a week. She carried on fighting. Unite pledged to launch an unrelenting campaign to support Tracey in the event that Go Ahead refused to reinstate her.
Sharon Graham said: “Tracey Scholes was the first woman bus driver at the Manchester depot. Her appointment broke the mould for women in the bus industry. She has given 34 years of unblemished service.”
Whether the attack on Tracey was a product of arrogant local management or a result of wider and deliberate management provocation, it sits in the context of an ongoing struggle between aggressive and anti-union bus employers and Unite’s growing militancy and ability to win disputes in the bus sector, and more generally.
This comes at the same depot where there was 85 days of strike action last year.
Sharon Graham’s leadership, and Unite’s newly formed combine in the bus sector, open up new and substantial possibilities for winning cases like this, but also for pushing back the major employers in the sector as part of a coordinated national Unite strategy on pay, conditions and jobs. However, not until the reregulation and nationalisation of the bus sector is achieved will there be a service with a real guarantee to protect workers’ rights and serve the community.