The Workers Party of Britain denounces the ‘fire and rehire’ stunt being pulled by Go North West and salutes the example being set by the striking Manchester bus drivers.
Rattled by over two weeks of all-out strikes in protest at Go North West’s plan to fire over 400 bus workers and rehire them on much inferior contracts, the company is now resorting to dirty tricks to try and undermine the strikers.
It has set up a parallel service operating from an alternative depot and staffed with scab labour on loan from other, non-unionised bus companies. The rogue service is running overcrowded buses without proper covid-safe measures in place.
Not content with this, Go North West is also raiding the public purse by furloughing some workers normally based in the Queens Road depot sooner than risk spreading the strike by requiring them to clock on at the shadow depot.
By upping the ante in this way, Go North West is making it clear that bosses are treating this as a test case for their fire and rehire stunt. The company is part of the big private monopoly Go Ahead Group, which also runs rail services, so the admirable resistance that workers are putting up in Manchester is blazing a trail for workers facing similar attacks across the private (but heavily subsidised) transport sector.
If the new contracts were to be forced through, drivers would be obliged to work on average three hours a week extra for no extra pay, amounting to an annual pay cut of £2,500.
Thanks to this ‘gift’ of free labour, the company hopes to reduce the overall headcount of drivers by 10 percent! In addition, the company wants to slash the value of drivers’ sick pay (during a pandemic).
We in the Workers Party of Britain salute the striking bus drivers of Manchester and will do whatever we are able to support their struggle.