27 May 2010

Ballot to defend Abdul Omer

Bus workers at two Sovereign Bus garages in west London are set to take part in a consultative ballot this Friday for strike action in defence of their sacked union Unite convenor.
Bosses sacked Abdul Omer Moshin claiming he was intimidating a witness at a disciplinary while representing a worker. His real crime was to have built the union effectively. Management upheld his sacking on appeal, but have now agreed to a “special review” of his case to be held on 2 June.

Bangladeshi drivers strike for justice

Sylhet, Bangladesh
A transport strike paralysed the district's communications on Monday.
Sylhet District Road Transport Labour Union called a day-long strike pressing for the arrest of the murderers who rented a microbus from Sylhet and killed its driver and an assistant in Gazipur on April 26.
The union president Selim Ahmed Falik told journalists that they had gone to the district administration to urge the arrest of the murderers and recovery of the microbus.
The union then called the strike since there were no steps in that direction. 

20 May 2010

Strike against privatisation in China

Baoshan City, Yunnan Province, SW China
Bus drivers have struck over recent reforms at the state-owned company.
The action, which began Monday morning, effects 54 buses covering five routes
The drivers were in dispute over the terms of a reform contract the two sides signed in March. The reforms are an attempt to privatise the company, a driver told Xinhua News Agency.

18 May 2010

Len McCluskey declares support for Abdul Omer

Len McCluskey, Unite’s assistant general secretary, offered “unequivocal support” for Abdul Omer, the sacked convenor at Sovereign Bus in west London, at last week’s London Bus Conference. Plans for a consultative ballot at Sovereign have been postponed until after a “special review” between Unite and a Sovereign director.

East London drivers resist pay cuts

East London Bus Group (ELBG) wants to launch an attack on drivers – but workers are determined to resist.
The mood was militant as 400 drivers packed into East Ham town hall for a meeting with their Unite union reps last week. They heard about ELBG’s plan to save £17 million over six months by pay cuts and attacks on terms and conditions.
Already supervisors face pay cuts of £4,000 a year, redundancies and attacks on holiday entitlement, sick pay and increases to their working hours. Unite’s London regional organiser Peter Kavanagh, told the meeting that the union backed strike action saying, “We are a fighting back union.”
A driver from Plumstead pointed out that ELBG was owned by an Australian bank. He said, “When the banks are broke they go to the taxpayer to bail them out, but they are not getting another penny out of me.” The meeting voted overwhelmingly for an immediate ballot for hard hitting strike action if ELBG propose pay cuts or attacks on terms and conditions.
ELBG’s assault is an issue for every bus driver. If they get away with it, it will set a precedent for companies across the city. Every activist needs to be spreading the message of resistance.

17 May 2010

Helsinki drivers out again

Helsinki, Finland
Drivers working for Helsingin Bussiliikenne Oy are due to strike from Thursday morning to Saturday evening. 
The dispute began when the bus company announced it planned to tear up its own contract with employees and implement an agreement of the Employers’ Federation of Road Transport instead. Unions say this would significantly weaken the present terms and conditions of employment. Drivers went on strike in this same dispute at the beginning of the month, bringing around 40% of the capital's bus services to a halt.

13 May 2010

Drivers defend themselves against police

Kochi, Kerala, India
Private bus workers in the city have called for a strike on May 13 and 14 to protest against what they term as police atrocities following recent road accidents.
“The police are continuing to harass the bus workers and are even trying to defame the bus crew by charging cases against even the innocent workers,” said Private Bus Thozhilali Federation (AITUC) general secretary Joy Joseph.
“We are not against cases being charged on erring bus workers. But now they are targeting each and every worker without verifying whether they are guilty or not,” he said.

Polish drivers revolt against privatisation

Gostynin, Poland
Workers at the state-owned bus company PKS in Gostynin began a strike last Tuesday, 4 May. They are opposing the privatization of the company, and they are threatening to escalate protests.
Workers are also demanding pay rises. They earn pretty close to minimum wage: about 300 euros per month. They are demanding a raise of about 125 euros.
The State Treasury announced in December that it wanted to sell PKS bus companies in seven cities in the region (Mazowsze). The workers are afraid of what may happen after privatization.
The Treasury decides selectively about the fate of such companies, tending to sell off the profitable ones, or the ones with property. On the other hand local governments took them over in places such as Wadowice, Nowy Sącz, Krakow and Starogard Gdanski.
PKS Gostynin is hiring strike breakers. 88 of the 109 workers, including all the drivers, are on strike. There are 4 unions operating in this workplace (such a situation is not unusual in Poland).
Earlier this week union reps were meant to meet with the director of the local PKS for talks. Instead, he threatened to file for bankruptcy if the workers don't return to work. In response, they occupied his office.

12 May 2010

Step up fight for Abdul Omer

The campaign to reinstate the sacked union convenor at Sovereign buses took a step forward last week. A meeting of the Unite union at Sovereign’s two garages in west London backed their officials’ call to hold an indicative ballot for strikes.
Unite will send a letter to every union member at Sovereign asking them to vote “yes”. The ballot will take place at both garages a week on Friday.

East London bus battle

East London Bus Group is threatening to slash wages for all workers. Supervisors face a pay cut of up to £5,000 a year. Bus drivers in the Unite union are holding a union meeting this week to plan a campaign.
Drivers at Arriva North in London have shown what can be won. They got a £750 lump sum for their 2009 settlement and a 2 percent pay rise for 2010. Attacks on conditions were originally attached to the deal, but management dropped these after the threat of action.

10 May 2010

Strike halts Johannesburg's new transport system

Johannesburg, South Africa
Scores of commuters were left stranded on Monday morning due to a surprise strike by the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) employees.
The reason for the sudden suspension of the city's newest form of public transport was not clear as representatives of various stakeholders were locked in meetings and could not be reached for comment. A press release stated: "Rea Vaya buses have not commenced operations this morning due to a union recognition dispute at the Bus Operating Company."

With the World Cup just a month away, transport workers in South Africa are in a strong bargaining position. At least 18,000 port and rail workers are also striking today - for higher wages.

7 May 2010

Indefinite strike begins in Sylhet

Sylhet, Bangladesh
Bus owners and workers began an indefinite strike today.
The dispute was sparked by an attempt to demolish the ticket office of the Moulvibazar Bus owners’ association in Sherpur, and construct a petrol pump in its place on 3 May.
The bus owners-workers associations of three other districts also halted bus movement to express solidarity.

4 May 2010

Tony Benn backs Abdul Omer

Former Labour MP Tony Benn is one of dozens of trade union and political figures that are backing the campaign for the reinstatement of Abdul Omer Mohsin.
Abdul Omer is the Unite union convenor at London Sovereign buses, owned by the giant multinational Transdev. It is a subsidiary of France’s state-owned Caisse des Dépôts, and is the fourth largest private operator of public transport networks in Europe.
“I have been sacked for being an effective union rep,” says Abdul Omer. “My union representative did an excellent job at demolishing the company’s case when I appealed against the sacking, but this has been ignored.
“I am determined to fight on for justice, and it is wonderful to have solidarity from so many people. I appeal to the company to see sense and to reinstate me.” Abdul Omer spoke at London’s May Day trade union march where he received a very warm welcome.
Company management claim they sacked Abdul Omer because he acted in an unacceptable and intimidatory way towards a witness at a disciplinary hearing. But Abdul Omer says he was not offensive, that the witness made no complaint, and he was simply standing up for a fellow worker.
The Unite union has fully backed Abdul Omer’s campaign against sacking, and his colleagues at the Harrow and Edgware garages are discussing possible industrial action in response.
The Defend Abdul Omer campaign, a broadly-based group, is supporting Unite’s campaign to win reinstatement. It is also demanding that London Mayor Boris Johnson intervenes to investigate charges of union-busting at London Sovereign.
He’s responsible for the operators that run the capital’s bus services. He should be forced to come out against this outrageous attack on a union.