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March for the Go North West bus strikers, Cheetam Hill, Manchester

March for the Go North West bus strikers, Cheetham Hill, Manchester. Photo: Giacomo Hall

People’s Assembly activists came together with trade unionists in Manchester in solidarity with striking Go North West drivers and other key workers, reports Chris Neville

A series of events took place today in Manchester in support of the City's key workers, with a particular focus on the hugely important Go North West bus strike.

Today marked the end of the fifth week of continuous strike action as the drivers battle against fire and rehire which will see their pay and conditions vastly reduced as the company pursues greater profits.

Hundreds of activists and trade unionists came together, firstly as the Manchester section of the People's Assembly national day of action and then, in a joint event with Manchester Trades Council, Manchester People's Assembly and Go North West's Unite members, for a rally and march through the streets.

The day started in South Manchester, at East Didsbury tram station car park where a convoy of around 50 cars set off to the depot, in Cheetham Hill, North Manchester. Cars were decked out with People's Assembly and Unite flags as well as posters showing support for NHS and British Gas workers.

En route, the cavalcade passed the Christie Hospital and Manchester Royal Infirmary in support of NHS workers and the sacrifices they have made over the last year.

From there, it headed into the City Centre and down Cheetham Hill road to the bus depot on Queen's Road, where the striking drivers lined the streets and waved Unite flags to welcome the vehicles.

A rally was held in a field close to the depot with some rousing speeches from representatives of Manchester People's Assembly, Manchester Trades Council, Sisters Uncut, Unite and local Labour MP, Graham Stringer.

A march of several miles then took place through the streets of Cheetham Hill, led by the PCS samba band. Union banners showed national support with branches as far away as Reading (RMT) in attendance.

The march stopped traffic to take place directly on the roads. Residents, hearing the noise of the samba band, took to their doorsteps, clapping to show their support.

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All in all, it was an excellent day with a carnival-like atmosphere and the Manchester sun shining. Striking workers marching through working-class residential areas is a rare sight these days but Manchester's trade unionists put on an amazing display of workers’ power and solidarity.

The events of today and the direct action taken on scab contractor depots in support of the strike show that the trade union movement and local community is on the side of the drivers. As they enter week six of this bitter dispute, let's hope the support and solidarity can help them win this fight.

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