Manchester bus drivers are refusing to back down in their fight against fire and rehire at Go North West and community activists have joined them to stop strike breakers, reports Karen Buckley
Go North West bus workers in Manchester are continuing with their all-out strike. Fire and rehire is still the threat and the drivers are being forced to choose between inferior contracts or unemployment. Go North West have refused to accept the compromises suggested by union negotiators from Unite.
In Manchester there’s growing support for the strikers, and strong feelings against fire and rehire.
Besides expressions of support from locally based actors, MP’s and more recently, Greater Manchester’s mayor, Andy Burnham, there’s very strong and growing support from local activists, campaigners, trade unionists, as well as their friends, families and colleagues.
Since the start of the strike, the company had employed other bus companies to cover a number of their usual bus routes. These replacement buses are clearly an attempt to break the strike.
Manchester has a strong working class history of resisting injustice and attacks to their rights. Fortunately this is none the less in current times. So over the last few weeks, increasing numbers of people have been out supporting the bus strikers and one of their actions has been to disrupt the replacement bus services.
Early on Monday morning, about 25 supporters of the strike turned up outside the replacement bus depot and slow walked across the depot entrance (which is all within the law) preventing GNW buses getting out. Eventually the police turned up and it was agreed the buses could come out. However, following their legal right, the strike supporters walked very slowly in front of the buses. This caused considerable delay, especially as the bus depot is in a cul de sac and it’s quite a distance to get to the main road. Consequently, buses were disrupted for 2 hours.
Not surprisingly, Go North West bosses were not happy with these actions but if they continue to treat their key worker drivers with their current contempt, it’s very likely the strike supporters will be out again disrupting the replacement bus services.
All this disruption is not good for Go North West customers or the business more generally. Hopefully bosses will be forced to retreat. The brave strikers and their many supporters in Manchester and beyond will not be backing down any day soon.
Counterfire's Chris Neville interviews two strikers who say they're in it till the end
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