Protesters took a stand against the bullying tactics of Go North West during a second day of action at the Queen's Road bus depot, reports Chris Neville
There was a second day of action on Tuesday morning at the Queen's Road bus depot in Manchester, as community activists gathered outside the depot from 4 am to disrupt the bus services and protest peacefully.
There was a marked difference in the atmosphere this time as a large number of police officers turned up, outnumbering the protesters by more than two to one. Rather than allow the protest to continue uninterrupted as they did last time, officers used force to move protesters out of the path of the buses and helped minimise disruption to the service and profits of Go North West.
It only took a few minutes for the police to arrive after the depot supervisor had called them and they quickly went inside to discuss their tactics of how best to allow the early morning services to depart with minimal disruption. Whereas last time, protesters had successfully blocked the vehicles from departing the depot by walking across the opening to the road, this time, police formed a barrier around the departing vehicles, aggressively shouting at and pushing away protesters who tried to carry out their activities.
Tactics were changed to crossing another part of the road next to the depot which forced individual buses to slow down and cause a backlog going to the depot. The police at this point slightly relaxed their stance and allowed individual buses to be slowed down as they ushered protesters along.
This did have an effect on the service with the company's Twitter account reporting disruption to services and was confirmed in conversation with one of the drivers on a cigarette break who said they were running well behind their schedule. Once again, several drivers voiced messages of support to the protesters, acknowledging that they were there in the interests of the workforce.
Since the first day of action a couple of weeks ago, a Facebook account set up in support of the victimised workers, Stop the Attacks on Queens Road has claimed that a number of serious complaints about senior management at the depot have gone unpunished. These appear to be quite serious, including allegations of homophobia and harassment of an employee with mental health issues.
The Facebook account also documents several acts of solidarity by trade unionists around Greater Manchester including outside Bury Town Hall and at the Shudehill interchange in Manchester City Centre.
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