Bus driver Unite members at Go North West, have overwhelmingly voted for strike action, in response to the company’s plans to fire and rehire them on vastly inferior contracts and in reaction to the company’s extremely aggressive and hostile approach towards them.
The workers recorded an 82 per cent yes vote in support of strike action on a 77 per cent turnout.
Unite is now consulting with members about how we go forward in light of this decisive ballot result. In the meantime the union is calling upon Go North West to tear up its fire and rehire plans and return to the negotiating table.
Last month Go North West summarily ended negotiations with Unite over cost saving proposals at its Queens Road depot and immediately began individual consultations with workers over its fire and rehire proposals.
If implemented, Go North West fire and rehire plans would result in a 10 per cent cut in bus drivers; workers, earning an average of £24,000 per annum, forced to work longer for no additional pay – leaving them £2,500 a year worse off; and tearing up the existing sick pay policy – which will force drivers to work when they are sick or should be self-isolating during the Covid-19 pandemic.
If strike action is held than it will inevitably cause a huge amount of disruption to bus passengers throughout Greater Manchester and beyond.
“This is an excellent result and underlines the anger of our members who are being forced by Go North West to choose between their jobs and huge cuts in their pay and conditions,” commented Unite regional secretary Ritchie James.
“Unite is now providing Go North West with a very short window of opportunity, where it can tear up its fire and rehire plans and return to the negotiating table.
“If the company fails to grasp this opportunity than Unite will not hesitate in calling strike action.
“Strike action will inevitably cause huge disruption to Manchester commuters but I hope that it is understood this is entirely a result of Go North West cynically trying to use the Covid-19 pandemic as cover to hire and rehire workers and slashing their pay and conditions.”
James concluded, “Unite’s members have been forced into this position by the company which has waged an extremely aggressive and hostile campaign against its own workers.”
Tensions in the dispute escalated steeply on Monday (February 8) when Go West managers hand delivered letters to drivers’ homes informing them that they had just eight days to accept the new contracts or be dismissed on the 8 May. Unite described Go North West’s actions as trying to ‘bully and intimidate’ its workers.
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By Barckley Sumner