by Anindya Bhattacharyya
Bus drivers in Barnsley and Rawmarsh staged a town centre demo last Saturday to mark the start of four more days of strikes in their battle over pay. Some 120 Stagecoach drivers, trade unionists and other supporters marched from Barnsley bus station to a rally in the town’s main shopping area.
Union representatives from Barnsley trade council, Unite, GMB, Unison and NUT spoke at the rally pledging their support and solidarity for the drivers. Saturday was the ninth strike day for the Stagecoach drivers. They also struck on Monday of this week, and plan to walk out on Wednesday and Friday too.
Pickets have remained strong and lively. Over 90 drivers picketed Barnsley station on Saturday and over 70 joined the picket on Monday. The drivers want a pay rise of 26p an hour to bring them up to £9 an hour, backdated to the start of June last year. The company is refusing to fund the back pay—choosing to spend money on funding scab buses instead.
These are driven by Stagecoach managers shipped in to Barnsley from around the country and put up in hotels overnight. Many people in Barnsley are avoiding the scab buses, despite the reduced £1 fares. “We have regular passengers refusing to catch the scab services,” said Unite branch secretary Tony Rushforth. Passengers are catching services from other bus operators or even walking in to town, he added. One supporter at the rally said eight people at his bus stop that day had refused to board a Stagecoach service.