25 Oct 2011

Indefinite strike hits Ontario

York Region, Ontario, Canada
About 560 drivers and mechanics from York Region Transit and the Viva Express route walked off the job at 4am yesterday. They are demanding parity. Their current pay is $22 per hour – $7 less than their GTA counterparts.
“If a two-week strike doesn’t send a message maybe it’ll have to be two months,” said Bob Kinnear, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents 220 Viva workers employed by Veolia Transport. The three striking groups represent about 60 per cent of York Region’s transit workers. A fourth group of Veolia employees continue to work in the southwest part of the region.

21 Oct 2011

Wildcat strike at Stagecoach in Fife

Leven, Fife, Scotland
Dozens of employees at a Fife bus depot caused disruption to services in the region by staging a wildcat strike yesterday. Several early-morning bus services were affected when up to 65 members of staff at Stagecoach's Aberhill depot in Leven downed tools.
Bosses were stunned when drivers began the unofficial industrial action at 4.30am. The stand-off continued until around 7.40am when the drivers were persuaded to return to work. Despite the apparent resolution, there were warnings further strikes could be on the cards if the workers' concerns are not taken on board.
It is understood the walkout was in protest at their treatment by management, amid claims local agreements have been breached in recent months. Most of the services affected were in the Levenmouth area, but the action also disrupted a number of express services from Fife and Glasgow.
One worker at the Aberhill depot, who did not wish to be named for fear of reprisals, told The Courier there is a high likelihood of more industrial action if talks with management break down. "It's all to do with management walking over the top of us and something had to be done,'' the worker said. ''We've got local agreements in place, but the management seem to be happy to break these time and time again. ''The drivers went back to work but if the management don't listen to us and don't come to negotiations then there could be more strikes to follow.''
The source said things came to a head at the depot when a high-ranking union representative was suspended by the company earlier this week. ''That was the final straw and we believe the allegations against this person are false,'' he added.

18 Oct 2011

Swaziland: drivers strike for arrested colleague

Swaziland, Southern Africa
Bus drivers in Manzini and Mbabane struck on Monday. This followed the arrest of one of their colleagues, Ncamiso Nkwanyana, who was later fined E5,000. He is still in custody.
According to Sabelo Dlamini, secretary general of the Swaziland Local Kombi Transport Association, the driver was charged with two counts – failure to issue passengers with tickets and the obstruction of a traffic police officer in the execution of his duties. Dlamini said this was not received well by the rest of the public transport workers.
The strike follows a demonstration by drivers at the end of September. 
That chaotic protest was staged first at the Manzini Bus Rank and then Mbabane Bus Rank, and was characterised by tumult in the streets that partially brought the cities to a standstill. The main cause for it was the arrest and E6,000 fine of two public transport workers. The money was paid by the kombi association which also convinced workers to call off the strike.

13 Oct 2011

Aberdeen drivers threaten to strike

Drivers at First in Aberdeen are threatening to strike over Christmas – in protest at plans to cut the amount of overtime they can work. First hopes to cut the number of overtime shifts drivers can work on their days off. At present drivers who work on these days can earn around £70 per shift.
Unite spokesman Tommy Campbell said the cuts in overtime would cost drivers around £500 to £1,000 per year. He said: "We find this quite disgraceful. We have made our position quite clear to the company that they should back off and if they don’t we will be left with no alternative but to ballot for industrial action."

12 Oct 2011

Cairo strike wins some demands

Public Transport Authority (PTA) workers in Cairo have returned to work following a 12 day strike. They secured a deal which met some of their demands for improved pay, investment and an end to corruption in the PTA. The strike has exposed tensions in the government over how to deal with the rising tide of workers’ demands. The minister of labour agreed to transfer money to meet the strikers’ wage claim, yet public transport bosses have denied receiving the cash.

Lobby for Abdul Omer

Supporters of Abdul Omer Mohsin, victimised Unite union convenor at London Sovereign buses, are organising a lobby of his employment tribunal to demand his reinstatement. The lobby takes place at 9am on Monday 7 November outside Radius House, 51 Clarendon Road, Watford WD17 1HU. Nearest tube: Watford (Metropolitan line). Supporters are encouraged to bring union and campaign banners.

5 Oct 2011

Unanimous vote to back Abdul Omer

Harrow, North West London
The campaign to reinstate victimised trade unionist Abdul Omer Mohsin was boosted on Sunday when his colleagues at Harrow bus garage voted 17-0 to support him. Their motion calls on the Unite union to launch an “active campaign” to back Abdul Omer. It says this should culminate in a strike ballot over both his case and an ongoing pay dispute at London Sovereign buses.
The unanimous vote makes clear that Abdul Omer has a high level of support. Bus workers want Unite to fight to reinstate his job and his post as union convenor. Sovereign sacked Abdul Omer over a year ago after he helped lead an equal pay campaign for London bus drivers. Bosses have since used the sacking to weaken the union in the garage. His employment tribunal hearing starts on 7 November.
Donations to Mr A I Omer, Barclays, account 20408859, sort code 20-69-15. 
Copies of Unite branch cheques should be sent to Peter Kavanagh, Unite, Woodberry, 218 Green Lanes, London N4 2HB. Email Abdul at omermohsin2@yahoo.co.uk

4 Oct 2011

National Express buys US bus group for $200m

National Express has bet on a recovery in the US school bus market with the purchase of an Ohio-based operator whose 3,300 yellow buses will increase the UK company’s fleet by 20 per cent.
The Birmingham-based bus, coach and rail operator will buy Petermann Partners for $200m cash on a debt-free basis from Macquarie Global Opportunities Partners, the private equity group.
National Express already owns two student transport companies in North America, and commands about 14 per cent of the US privatised school bus market. That makes it second only to Aberdeen-based FirstGroup, the leading operator by market share.
Dean Finch (CEO of National Express) expects privatisation of the US’s approximately 530,000 school buses to be steady, if slow. “There is a sensible, meaningful number of buses – roughly 3,000 to 5,000 buses – a year that go from public sector to private sector, and we’re glad to take our share of that business,” he said.

3 Oct 2011

Egypt's drivers declare indefinite sit-in

Cairo, Egypt
Transport authority workers will continue their sit-in outside the Cabinet’s offices after Saturday night’s failed government negotiations. Around a thousand striking transport workers from across Cairo have been demonstrating on Qasr El-Aini Street, one of the city’s major thoroughfares, and Maglis Al-Shaab Street, the seat of Egypt’s Parliament.

The strikers are maintaining their resolve, displaying no signs of fatigue. Scenes in front of the Cabinet have in fact bordered on celebratory. Protesters, for instance, have been standing atop buses, beating on drums and chanting against Sharaf and Minister of Manpower Ahmed Hassan El-Boraei.
The government’s intransigence, according to many workers, has galvanised strikers even more. Many have complained that the Cabinet has been playing games with them and refusing to take them seriously. “We are human beings, we are also parents. We want to serve the public, but the government doesn’t want to take us seriously,” a 21-year veteran bus driver exclaimed.

Workers told Ahram Online that they woke up on Sunday morning to report to work believing the government had agreed to their demands as State TV and various media outlets announced the night before. However, the independent union had in fact not signed the agreement, as the terms reportedly presented a setback rather than a step forward.
After buses from 14 garages out of 24 began the morning shift drivers were informed there was no deal. Prime Minister Essam Sharaf’s Cabinet announced that it had allocated the LE128 million needed to meet the transport workers demands for wage restructuring and end of service bonuses but the drivers say that they realised only half this amount was really allocated. 
Also, the offer, according to the striking workers, came with punitive and inhumane conditions. The drivers, for example, currently work 20 days per month. The Cabinet’s offer, however, demanded that workers clock-in 26 days per month in order to qualify for the wage adjustments.

Egypt: striking drivers blockade Parliament

Around three thousand workers from the Public Transport Authority blocked the street outside Parliament in Cairo on Saturday, demanding increases to their wages, a rise of 200% in their incentive pay, and the resignation of Ahmad al-Borai, the Minister of Labour and Migration, because of what they described as “his failure to solve their crisis”.
The workers shouted “Borai out!” and “We’re not going, he’s going” (echoing the famous chants against Mubarak during the uprising in February). Some of them attacked Ali Fattouh, president of the Independent Public Transport Authority Workers’ Union, considering that the independent union had aggravated the crisis.
Activist Gigi Ibrahim was detained by the army for three hours, as they objected to her filming the blockade. They then forced her to delete the footage. Gigi believes she may have been detained for trying to give accurate information about the strike which contradicts official statements. "The army has been trying to convince ‎the public that the strike is over and that the drivers’ demands have been fulfilled, and ‎that is not true" she said.