31 Jan 2011

Joint strike by transport workers in Greece

Transport unions in Athens said they'd stage a series of strikes from today to protest a government plan to "restructure" public transport. The plan would mean pay cuts and an attack on working conditions.
A union representative said metro staff would go on a 24-hour strike today, while bus workers plan to stop work for five hours today before starting a 48-hour strike tomorrow.
Two weeks ago Athens was paralysed by a 24-hour transport strike (the fifth since December) against the government plans.

27 Jan 2011

Stagecoach sells Preston Bus to Rotala

The long-running ownership saga at Preston Bus appears to have ended this week after Birmingham-based bus operator Rotala confirmed it will buy the company for £3.2m. The deal ends months of speculation about the company’s future since the Competition Commission ordered Stagecoach to sell it in November 2009.
Rotala is the second largest bus operator in  the West Midlands, Bristol and Bath. Preston Bus operates a fleet of 85 vehicles with 240 employees. It runs about 10 million passenger journeys a year.

United strike in northern Dominican Republic

A transport strike staged by different barrio (neighbourhood) organizations to demand lower fuel prices has stopped all buses on routes to the north-central Cibao and Northwest regions, except those of the company Caribe Tours.
The bus companies Frente Liniero, Expreso Bello Atardecer and others joined the strike convened by the barrio organizations grouped in FALPO (Broad Front for Popular Struggle). Although Caribe Tours continued to operate, many of its buses were stopped and turned around by strikers.

21 Jan 2011

Bring the reckless bus bosses to a stop

by Viv Smith
A quarter of buses run by the Metroline firm in London have serious defects and should not be on the road. That was the shocking conclusion of a report in the Evening Standard newspaper last week.
Socialist Worker spoke to drivers about their experiences. Sam has worked on the buses for over ten years. “Since privatisation we have been under pressure to drive buses that are not roadworthy,” he said. “A friend of mine was told a few months ago that he could drive a bus even though the speedometer wasn’t working. Management said it wasn’t a big deal. But it’s his licence on the line if he is caught speeding. “The problem is that in my depot there is only one engineer overnight to fix all the buses. We can’t blame them—they have a huge workload.”
Metroline, like all London operators, are contracted by Transport for London to cover a set number of miles. Every mile lost because a bus is off the road loses the company money. “Transport for London is the problem,” added Sam. “It forces firms to bid for routes and makes them compete against each other... The companies then squeeze our salaries and try to get us to work longer hours. If they can keep a bus running without fixing it, they will.”
Max said he agreed with the leaked reports. “Even when we’ve reported a bus with problems several times, filling in defect cards, they don’t get fixed,” he said. “Two weeks ago a bus came in with a warning light showing that the brake pads were worn. I was told to drive it. It was only when I said that I wanted to report this that I was brought another bus.”
Amy said that drivers should refuse to take out buses with defects. All the drivers who spoke to Socialist Worker agreed that it would be in the best interests of drivers, engineers and passengers if the buses were renationalised.
Roger, another driver, said that in his seven years in the industry, drivers have had to take out buses with defects. He said, “I’ve been told to drive a bus with a crack in the windscreen—when I refused it was given to another driver. One bad bump in the road and you’ve had it.”
Another driver reported being told to drive despite ice on his route: “I lost control and my bus went into a slide. When I got to the garage and said I didn’t want to carry on driving the supervisor told me not to worry. ‘It’s happening to lots of people,’ he said.”
Metroline workers are due to be balloted for industrial action over pay in the coming weeks. The dangerous state of many of the capital’s buses—combined with long working hours and poor conditions—is adding to the mood for action.
Names have been changed to protect drivers’ identities

12 Jan 2011

Bus workers' one minute walkout

The Unite union has called a national work stoppage for all members on 1 March to highlight the long hours drivers work. They will stop work for a minute at 11am.

7 Jan 2011

Transport bosses given gold-plated pensions

The TSSA union have exposed a pensions bonanza for transport bosses, at a time when massive hikes in fares are being imposed on many routes. FirstGroup, the biggest bus operator in the UK, will be paying Sir Muir Lochhead £325,000 a year when he retires this Spring .
At Arriva, the third biggest bus operator in the UK, David Martin will pick up £366,000 a year when he retires. (He also banked nearly £5 million when the firm was taken over by Deutsche Bahn)

5 Jan 2011

Stagecoach bus mechanic crushed by vehicle

By Catriona Webster
A mechanic was crushed under a bus in Aberdeen last week. Gordon Nicolson, 49, was working on a Stagecoach bus at the city’s Guild Street station when, it is understood, a jack holding the vehicle collapsed, trapping him between the wheel and its arch.
Firefighters used airbags and hydraulic lifting gear to free Mr Nicolson, of Gladstone Place, and he was taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary with chest and head injuries.
A Grampian Police spokesman said an investigation into the accident was under way with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Stagecoach.