18 Sep 2014

London bus workers march for equality

Over 150 bus workers marched in central London on Thursday of last week in protest at unequal pay and conditions. The Unite union, which represents the workers, is demanding joint negotiations with over a dozen companies over conditions in London’s bus garages.
“New drivers are being let down by these companies,” said Mohammed, a driver at Willesden garage. “They’re squeezing everything they can out of them.” 

Slashing pay
Since privatisation in the mid-1990s London bus workers have seen their conditions attacked. Intense competition for lucrative routes has boosted profits and slashed workers’ pay.
Workers within the same company can now be on several different rates of pay. A Unite rep from north west London told Socialist Worker, “Some companies won’t let new starters progress to higher pay levels. “But why shouldn’t they get the same as experienced drivers? ...They’re picking up the same people and doing the same job.”

Fiddling terms
One driver from Silvertown garage in east London told Socialist Worker, “In my garage drivers can be paid up to £4 an hour difference... Whenever a company takes over they fiddle our terms. I used to work for First but now it’s Go Ahead. When they took over they got rid of final salary pensions.”
A driver from Lea Interchange was clear what needs to happen, telling Socialist Worker, “We need to strike—the bosses have to know we mean business.” United action can win. In 2012 solid strikes forced bosses to pay a £500 bonus for working during the Olympics. However many believed more could have been won.
If Transport for London can force all companies to introduce cashless payments they, and company bosses, can be forced to negotiate one rate for the job across the capital.

5 Aug 2014

New Stagecoach CEO rakes in £2.27 million

Stagecoach Group chief executive Martin Griffiths 'earned' £2.27 million for his first year in the top job. The company's annual report shows his salary and performance-related bonus was £600,000 – while the value of long-term shares he received was £597,311.
He also received his bonus in full after Stagecoach matched its profit target of £214m. Griffiths was promoted to the top job in May 2013 after Brian Souter decided to step back from day-to-day management of the company he founded.

30 Jun 2014

Engineers at First Glasgow vote to strike over pay

Engineers at Commonwealth Games bus operator First Group Glasgow have overwhelmingly rejected a 1.2% pay offer for 2014-15 after a consultative ballot, prompting Unite to re-serve notice of impending industrial action to the employer.
The latest offer was tabled before Unite members’ following ACAS negotiations last week. However, the new offer – which amounts to a small increase of less than £6 a week for day shift operatives – was kicked-out by a majority of 145 to 3.

Boss doubles his pay
Anger among the workers increased in the aftermath of ACAS negotiations when it was revealed First Group Executive Tim O’Toole saw his pay award double to £2 million for 2014-15, while other directors enjoyed pay rises worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Unite regional industrial officer Eddie Duffy said: “This resounding rejection by the First Glasgow engineers should serve as a wake-up call to the company and the local managing director, Fiona Kerr.
“Last week’s revelations that executive pay at First Group shot through the roof while our members were being consulted on a meagre 1.2% pay offer proved the final straw for a proud workforce that is steeped in the best traditions of the Glasgow bus industry.

In your face
“For years they have worked through below-inflation pay awards to help sustain the company’s Glasgow operations but with such pay disparity being so publicly flaunted when many of our members are struggling to keep up with the basic cost of living, its little wonder anger is intensifying.
“Our message to Fiona Kerr and First Group is this: to avoid strike action, come back with a fair pay offer that meets the expectations of this workforce because it’s clear the finance is there to do so.”

29 May 2014

Brazil: wildcat strikes continue in four cities

Bus drivers demanding higher wages and better benefits have continued a partial strike in four Brazilian cities, including two host cities of the World Cup, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. Commuters experienced delays in both cities on Wednesday as about a third of bus drivers refused to work.
The ongoing strike was organized by a group of drivers who disagree with a recent deal struck between their union and their bus company.

Strike wave
Brazil has recently seen a series of protests and strikes for better wages and working conditions ahead of the World Cup and elections scheduled for October.
On May 26, Brazil’s national football team was forced to pass through 200 striking teachers when heading for the squad’s hilltop tournament training camp.

 Wasted billions
Hundreds of Brazilian protesters took to the streets of Sao Paulo on May 24 to express their anger at the huge expenses of the World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games to be hosted by the country.
Brazil’s police forces also went on strike in 14 states on May 21. Critics say the billions being spent on the sports event should be invested in better health, education services, transportation, and housing for Brazilians

21 May 2014

Sao Paulo: wild cat strike paralyses city

Bus drivers in Sao Paulo went on strike yesterday, surprising the sprawling Brazilian city by closing 15 of its 18 bus terminals and in some cases abandoning their vehicles in the middle of the street.
The strike is the latest to hit Brazil as it gears up to host the World Cup from 12 June to 13 July – and hold presidential and congressional elections in October.
The striking drivers are rebelling against their union, which agreed to a 10-percent pay increase in negotiations with management, according to newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo. The strikers were demanding 30 percent.
"This was news to me, these holdouts who don't accept the terms of the deal," said a surprised mayor Fernando Haddad. About 300 striking drivers and fare collectors marched to the mayor's office to demand a meeting with Haddad. Other drivers stopped their buses in the middle of the street and asked their passengers to get off, said newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo.
Sao Paulo, a city of 11 million people, will host the opening match of the World Cup in 23 days. Its 15,000 buses are a key part of its transit system.

15 May 2014

Stagecoach siblings become billionaires

Sir Brian Souter and Ann Gloag, the siblings who founded the Stagecoach transport empire, have become members of the billionaire club for the first time. They share a fortune of £1bn - an increase of £270m on last year, according to the 2014 Sunday Times Rich List.
The study found that Britain has more billionaires per head of population than any other country, while London's total of 72 sterling billionaires is more than any other city in the world. There are now 104 billionaires based in the UK with a combined wealth of more than £301bn.

Oxford: Stagecoach workers vote to strike

Unite drivers and engineers employed by Stagecoach are set to strike on Friday 30 May and Monday 2 June in a dispute over pay. The ballot closed on May 2 after negotiations with company bosses faltered.

14 Apr 2014

Vermont: strike wins key demands

On 3 April, bus drivers for the Chittenden County Transportation Authority in Vermont, USA, ended a three-and-a-half week strike with a 53-6 vote to ratify a new contract.
The agreement holds the line and more on the most important demands of the drivers, members of Teamsters Local 597. It also serves as a powerful demonstration that strikes can win when union members are united and strong – and when they have the support of community members who connect the strikers' issues to their own concerns.
The contract contains a 2 percent raise per year over the three-year contract. But drivers were most intent on pushing back management demands that would have created unsafe conditions on the job, shifted in the direction of a part-time labor force and handed over new tools to spy on and harass the drivers. On these questions, the drivers believe they won.