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Abdul Omer Mohsin, Unite convenor for London Sovereign, lost his appeal against dismissal on Tuesday. The Unite official who represented Omer at his appeal took the company’s case apart. Its obvious that Abdul Omer has been sacked for being an effective union convenor.

Drivers at Sovereign had the worst pay and conditions in London. That has changed, and the bosses are anxious to stop any further gains.

Omer’s record

He has strengthened union organisation at Sovereign’s two garages, backed up by strikes, which has resulted in serious gains for drivers.
These include:

  • Pay will be brought into line with Sovereign’s sister company, London United. This will increase Sovereign drivers pay by around £4,000 a year within an agreed timetable.
  • New drivers at Sovereign were paid 14 percent less than at London United. Half this gap has been closed this year. The other half will be closed in July this year.
  • New drivers had to wait two years before being entitled to sick pay. They will now be entitled to receive it after 12 months‚Äîthe same as the drivers at London United.
  • Sovereign workers will receive a 2 percent pay increase as part of a deal to align the hours they work with London United. This is over and above normal pay bargaining.
  • London United workers are entitled to an annual performance related bonus, paid at Christmas and usually worth around £400. Sovereign has now agreed to negotiate on introducing this at its garages.
  • Sovereign in the past has offered no bonus for length of service. Drivers will now receive a £10 a week bonus after five years employment. This July that will drop to four years, and in 2011 it will be paid after three years employment. And they won a 3.5 percent pay rise this year! Omer, as convenor, has been central to all this.
  • When the racist English Defence League tried to march on the Harrow mosque in September, UNITE called on all members to support the Unite Against Fascism counter mobilisation. In the Harrow garage Omer advertised the UAF demo from the union office and 20 drivers were mobilised from Sovereign to support the counter protest. The demonstration was a huge success and the EDL were humiliated.

Sovereign have made a simple calculation. They may have to pay out at an employment tribunal but they’d rather do that than have an effective union operating there. This attack is now about much more than Abdul Omer as an individual. This decision is meant to intimidate workers and the union. The sacking is supposed to warn everyone that if you cause “trouble” you will be sacked. .

If Sovereign get away with this sacking there will likely be repercussions throughout London buses. Unite is committed to fight this attack on the union.

  • UNITE has called a mass meeting of both Sovereign garages on Thursday 6th May to campaign for a ballot for strike action. Messages of support and pledges of solidarity prior to the meeting are urgently needed to show drivers that the union and bus workers in the union are prepared to throw our weight behind the campaign.
  • Workers at garages across London should send messages of support to [email protected]
  • Contact Sovereign to demand Omer’s reinstatement. Email Paul Matthews, managing director London Sovereign at [email protected]
  • Comrades can invite Omer into their meetings to explain about the attack on the union. For more information, contact 07973 640 057
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