28 Apr 2010

Abdul Omer loses appeal against sacking

Abdul Omer, Unite convenor for London Sovereign, lost his appeal against dismissal yesterday. The Unite official who represented Omer at the appeal demolished the company's case but they sacked him anyway.
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 in their garages. The decision is meant to intimidate workers - to warn everyone that if you cause "trouble" you'll be sacked.
This is an outrageous attack on a key union activist on the London buses. If any worker at Sovereign wants to be treated with respect in the future there has to be a fightback now. Otherwise there'll be far more sackings and disciplinaries of reps.
Unite is committed to fight this vicious attack on the union. We have to step up the campaign - every bus garage should invite reps from Sovereign into their meetings to explain the case. The union has to beat back this attack, and show it won't rest until he is reinstated.
Download the latest campaign leaflet on our "leaflets" page.

26 Apr 2010

Rail, bus and post workers strike in Portugal

A rush-hour work stoppage by train engineers has caused widespread travel disruption in Portugal. The Train Engineers Union said only about one in four of the national rail company's scheduled services ran during the five-hour strike on Monday morning.
The engineers also plan to walk off the job during morning rush hours on Tuesday and Thursday in protest of the government's pay freeze at publicly-owned companies.
The measure is part of an austerity plan to reduce the country's debt burden. The disruption is likely to worsen on Tuesday when bus drivers stage a 24-hour strike. Postal workers also plan stoppages this week.

Private & public sector drivers strike together

Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India:
A hundred private bus drivers joined the strike of temporary and contractual workers on Saturday - members of the Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service (AMTS). 
Local authorities reacted by invoking emergency leglislation, and bringing in drivers from other regions. The strike should escalate today with a 24-hour strike called by autorickshaw drivers.

23 Apr 2010

Dublin Bus slashes jobs

Dublin Bus is to axe around 150 drivers on top of the 290 workers it let go last year, it was revealed today.  It is the main transport provider in the Greater Dublin Area, carrying 70% of peak time public transport users into Dublin.
The company's spokeswoman said last year's cuts were linked with a €30m cost-saving plan but the latest round of job losses are due to the withdrawal of up to 90 buses.
She said bosses will enter talks with unions, but declined to say what would happen if they could not fill the 150 target through voluntary cuts.

22 Apr 2010

Lebanese drivers strike together

Lebanese taxi drivers and public bus drivers will go on strike today to protest the rise in gasoline prices and condemn the cabinet’s neglect of the ground transportation sector.
All public vehicle drivers were called to halt their work and protest peacefully against “increasing taxes and fees through the weekly rise in gasoline prices with the aim of serving the budget deficit and the public debt,” according to the statement.
Drivers will gather at 10 am in Beirut, Zahle, Sidon, Baalbek, Tripoli, Nabatieh and Bhamdoun to march. The strike will end at noon when news conferences will be held in each region.
The unions also slammed price rises and the lack of control against monopolies. They said 95 percent of the population was living in poverty and was working for the benefit of the remaining 5 percent who have a grip on the economy.

16 Apr 2010

Transport strike engulfs Ivory Coast

A transport strike, which began on Monday in protest against rising fuel prices, poses a threat to cocoa exports from the top grower nation as beans are routinely trucked in from plantations to port for shipment.
Taxi and bus drivers have progressively stepped up strike action in the commercial centre Abidjan since Monday, as transport unions demand the government cuts diesel and petrol prices by 30 percent.
"Yesterday no one called us to talk, so we are continuing the strike today," said Yacouba Diakite, head of the transport union. "As long as the price of fuel does not fall, we will continue the strike."

14 Apr 2010

Drivers back Abdul Omer

The campaign to reinstate sacked Unite union convenor for Sovereign buses, Abdul Omer, is gaining strength. Almost all the drivers at both the company’s garages in Harrow and Edgware, west London, have signed a petition demanding he is returned to his job.
Management claim Omer was disrespectful towards a witness at a disciplinary hearing. His real offence is to have helped build the union effectively at Sovereign.
The petition will be presented to the company this week, and a campaign for a strike ballot will begin if the company fails to respond. Managers slept at the Harrow garage last Thursday as they feared a walkout.
Send messages of support to defendabdulomer@yahoo.co.uk 

Send messages of protest to Sovereign at customer@londonutd.co.uk
You can also download campaign leaflets from our "leaflets" page.

South African strike escalates

Tens of thousands of council workers in South Africa have been on strike since Monday. They include refuse workers, bus drivers, and traffic wardens.
A bid by the SA Local Government Association to prohibit the strike was withdrawn in the Labour Court, and the association was ordered to carry the strikers' costs incurred in opposing the application.
In Durban, about 30 people dressed in red union T-shirts picketed outside the city hall, dancing, singing and carrying placards that read: "Workers can't afford to pay for their water and electricity, salaries not affording" and "Municipalities must pay same salaries for grades".
They marched into the city's treasury department and demanded that people in the building stop working. But a security guard locked the doors, leaving them singing outside.
About 12,000 people are expected at the union's Durban march tomorrow.
The SAMWU union's key demands include the extension of the Job Evaluation Collective Agreement and a wage cap on the salaries of councillors, municipal managers and Section 57 employees (senior council officials).
A union spokesperson, Tahir Sema, said Samwu would intensify the strike until the worker's demands were met.

6 Apr 2010

Defend Abdul Omer, defend the union

Bosses at Sovereign Bus Company have sacked Abdul Omer, the Unite convenor for their two garages in Harrow and Edgware. It is a clear attempt to break union organisation. Everybody knows that drivers at Sovereign had the worst pay and conditions in London. That has changed, and the bosses hate it. 
Management have accused Omer of intimidating a witness during a disciplinary hearing. None of the witnesses have made a complaint. His real crime is robustly defending a worker against a charge. Action in defence of Omer can get results. Sovereign is a bully. Like all bullies they will back down when faced with a strong response rather than running away from them.
The Unite branch at Harrow passed a motion calling on the union to hold a ballot for action to reinstate Omer. It was also signed by all the reps at both Sovereign garages. Omer’s record strengthened union organisation at Sovereign’s two garages, backed up by strikes and has resulted in serious gains for drivers.
Sovereign bosses know Omer has support. That’s why they have rushed to have extra managers working over the Easter weekend to stop and halt any walkouts. Our reps must be free to effectively defend members at disciplinary hearings without facing management threats to suspend or sack them.
If Sovereign can get away with sacking the union convenor it will encourage other companies to attempt to weaken union organisation elsewhere. Every garage should call on the union to act on the Harrow Unite branch demand for an official ballot.
Send messages of support to defendabdulomer@yahoo.co.uk
You can also download the leaflet on our "leaflets" page.

Romanian drivers strike against austerity cuts

More than 4,500 bus and tram drivers in Bucharest staged a strike without warning last Thursday. Employees were protesting their pay had decreased, with an austerity budget meaning no overtime and Easter bonuses. In March workers were also stripped of free travel in the capital.
The Romanian government has frozen wages for 1.3 million public workers this year and said it would cut 100,000 jobs to meet budget demands set by the International Monetary Fund, which is lending a £20 billion package of loans to the country.

Bus workers’ conference sees big political debate

Unite union reps from London’s bus garages last week attended one of their most political conferences to date. More than 200 workers discussed protecting terms and conditions, supporting the BA cabin crew and fighting against the fascist BNP. One driver said that the meeting represented a “big leftward shift” among bus drivers.
The conference also discussed regulations governing the transfer of drivers between companies as contracts for routes are won and lost by private bus firms. The TUPE rules are meant to protect existing terms and conditions. But privatisation is designed to undermine these.
In the past, the union has simply accepted transfers between companies. Some drivers are now questioning this and putting the union under pressure. One driver said that “the union could do more around this issue”.
A striking BA cabin crew member spoke and got “an enormous reception,” according to a delegate. Following suggestions from the floor, a collection for the strikers was held. Unite reps were encouraged to follow it up with collections at their garages. Metroline workers then collected over £300. Drivers at Sovereign collected £200 and took it to BA picket lines at Heathrow on Saturday morning.
Ken Livingstone spoke at the meeting and promised that if re-elected as London mayor he would introduce equal pay for all drivers across the capital. But many workers expressed anger and disappointment with Labour’s record in office. Livingstone agreed that New Labour has let workers down, but attacked the Tories and called for a vote for Labour.
One driver suggested that workers needed a new party. Livingstone responded by saying that socialists should try and win back control of the Labour Party from the ‘New Labour cabal”.

Chinese drivers strike against "overlord contract"

Bus drivers in Southwest China's Yunnan province continued their strike on Monday in protest over a reform imposed by the local transportation company.
Prior to the reform, drivers had ownership of the buses and affiliated themselves with the company. The reform is pushing drivers to sell their vehicles to the company and then take out a contract for operational rights.
The drivers consider the amount they are being offered for the buses to be too low. The arrangement would also require them to pay high management fees as well as to renew their contracts every two years.
Zhao Ziwen, a 44-year-old driver and the owner of two buses, said most of his colleagues are dissatisfied with the amount being offered by the company for their vehicles.
"We don't want to make trouble," Zhao said, "But we have spent more than 100,000 yuan ($14,650) of hard-earned money on a bus. Who can bear the loss of selling it at 30,000 yuan?"
Another reason for the strike is the cost of management fees, totaling 5,000 to 6,000 yuan a month, while drivers' operational rights have not been protected and numerous unlicensed buses illegally siphon off their passengers, Beijing News reported on Monday.
A red banner that was hung across buses parked in the Xiaoshaba maintenance station reads: "Give back (our) hard-earned money! Cancel the unreasonable 'overlord contract' made unilaterally!"
There are some 150 buses in the prefecture and 124 went on strike.
The strike is the latest of its kind, in which drivers have challenged operators who hold the advantage of being the authority that grants licenses. Similar protests by taxi drivers took place last year in Chongqing municipality, and in Hainan, Gansu and Henan provinces.