Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 6 May 2009

Defending a shop steward, in spite of the anti-union laws

The 23 January started like any other day for me, I arrived at work at 6am. I work as a bus driver and I am a Unite shop steward. An argument started between a senior inspector and a fellow driver. As a shop steward I offered to help.

A bus driver

The driver had arrived 40 minutes late for work (the first time in over 30 years!) and was given another piece of work to do that started over an hour later. Under our collectively bargained 'late agreement' the driver should have been paid upon arrival and continued to work as normal. But he was told he would not be paid until he started the work given to him over an hour later.

I tried to reason with the inspector and even showed him a copy of the 'late agreement' but to no avail. The driver involved said he would not do the work given unless he was paid from arrival. Once again this was refused and the work he had been given was taken away by the now disgruntled inspector.

I told the driver to wait in our canteen until a senior union official arrived, around 8.30am. And that's when my troubles began!

A few hours later I was taken off my bus and ordered to report to my depot for an "investigation" into what had happened that morning. I explained and was expecting a discussion to follow on the late agreement protocol but it soon became clear what the real motives of the management were.

They decided this was a perfect opportunity to attack our union and me personally as one of the more outspoken 'militants' of our branch committee. I was charged with gross misconduct for "instructing a driver to refuse a reasonable instruction". I did no such thing.

Even the driver concerned told them that it was his decision to not do the work given if he wasn't being paid but the company decided, unbelievably, that he was obviously lying to cover for me! He was charged with "wilfully obstructing an investigation" and given a final written warning and five days suspension.

It was now obvious what was happening. I had a 'kangaroo' court style disciplinary and was sacked with immediate effect. When at my appeal it was argued that ACAS guidelines had been disregarded and my sacking was totally unfair and could only be seen as a direct attack against the trade union, the management thought they'd found a clever way around what they had done.

I was reinstated but with a five-day suspension, final written warning and, worst of all, transferred to another depot in another town - a 15 mile a day, 75 mile a week round trip for me!

This, thought the management, would appease the union membership, who by now had made it clear to the management what they thought of this attack on one of their stewards for defending one of their comrades. At the same time it would de-recognise me as a shop steward - I was not elected at the other depot so was not a steward there.

But this outraged the union and the membership and a 'test the water' ballot was held to have all the sanctions against me and the other driver dropped and for me to be returned to my depot as shop steward without delay.

The ballot was 403 in favour of action with 41 against - nearly 10 to 1. At the last minute the management folded and all sanctions against me were dropped. I was returned to my depot as shop steward. The sanctions against the driver I was defending have not been dropped and this will be subject to further ballots.

There are two lessons I have learned from what happened to me and they are:

1 - That unless this government removes the anti-trade union laws laid down by the previous Tory government then big businesses will continue to attack trade unions within the workplace.

2 - When we stand together we show just how powerful the working-class of this country really is. A power we are continually told by government and the capitalist media machine no longer exists. Well I'm proof that it does and I'll continue to defend my members against the bosses.

Regardless of the bullying and underhanded tactics employed to break us!

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 6 May 2009:

Visteon workers show: Action gets results

Visteon UK struggle: the story of what happened

Visteon: Editorial comment

Defend victimised trade unionist

Rob Williams sacked by brutal bosses

Editorial: Decisive action needed against victimisations

Defend victimised trade unionist

Defending a shop steward, in spite of the anti-union laws

National Shop Stewards Network national conference

No 2 EU - Yes to Democracy

How can the BNP really be defeated?

Support for No2EU at Usdaw conference

Socialist Party news and analysis

Swine flu: The real issues behind the headlines

May Day

Workers look for alternative to bankrupt capitalism

Widespread protests in Pakistan

Thousands demonstrate in Hong Kong

Bigger May Day demos in Sweden this year

CWI Germany calls for a one-day strike

International socialist news and analysis

ANC returned to power in election landslide

Socialist Party campaigns

Save Lewisham Bridge Defend education

Youth fight for jobs: Launch conference

Youth fight for jobs website

Fight to save higher education

Save linguistics at Sussex!

Keep fighting for further education funding


Home   |   The Socialist 6 May 2009   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:

Trade unions:

triangleNHS - build the fightback

trianglePCS executive agrees next steps in pay campaign

triangleSustained mass movement needed to stop Tories wrecking our NHS

triangleLabour 'purge' furore really just democracy

triangleStrikers rally in Liverpool


triangleSadiq Khan's bus drivers' London licence doesn't go far enough

triangleMini-strike wave continues and intensifies

triangleArriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

triangleHuge support for strikes of bus drivers and train guards

Public transport:

triangleWhat we saw

triangleIreland: rail workers demand share of 'recovery'

Shop Stewards:

triangleUnite day of action against blacklisting

triangleObituary: Derek Robinson, car workers' leader, 1927-2017


triangleLocal government workers' reps reject 2% pay offer

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Lecturers strike around country in defence of pensions



German engineering strike puts shorter week on agenda - but could have won more



Cardiff Refugee Rights gig success



Nottingham hospital black alert


East Midlands

Lively discussion at East Midlands Socialist Party conference


West Midlands

Tremendous determination on show at West Midlands conference



Successful Socialist Party Wales conference sets tone for the year ahead



Bradford protests against kids' service cuts


May Day

May Day, May Day! Celebrate solidarity!



Labour councillors push through savage cuts in Kirklees budget



Save Salford nurseries!



Victory: Pontllanfraith leisure centre saved



Northants council crisis - protesters demand an end to cuts and privatisation



Leicester Uni makes Tory fee tripler David Willetts chancellor - sack Willetts!



Bosses divided - university pension strikes can win!

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

February 2018

January 2018