15 Feb 2012

South Yorkshire strike still going strong

4 Feb: A protest in solidarity with the strikers organised by the local trades council
by George Arthur  
Barnsley bus drivers finished their twelfth strike day on a high note. Some 70 of them were on the picket line from 5.30am until lunchtime on Friday of last week. The Unite union members are now giving Stagecoach management a couple of weeks to respond to the union’s demands for a decent wage and back pay to last June. A mass meeting of the drivers has been organised for this Sunday. Further action will follow if Stagecoach does not improve its offer. 
The strike is holding strong despite the hardship drivers face. One of the small minority of drivers who had been crossing the picket line rejoined the strike on Friday. 

Managers are trying to intimidate strikers with a number of unpleasant tactics. “They are looking for any excuse to pull people into the office,” one picket told Socialist Worker. “I was given a grilling for driving with a hat in the cold because it did not have Stagecoach printed on it.” Another picket told of how he had applied for another job. But Stagecoach is refusing to fill out a reference while the dispute is ongoing. 
Management have also refused to allow strikers any overtime working. Because basic wages have been so low many drivers rely on overtime to make up a wage they can live on. Some drivers have regularly been working 13 days every two weeks. “Stagecoach wants to starve us back,” one union rep said. “But the collections that are coming in will make sure that we can keep fighting.” 

A Barnsley striker spoke at a public meeting in the town last Saturday that marked the 40th anniversary of the closing of Saltley gate. A collection at the meeting raised £100 for the hardship fund.
Messages of support should be emailed to Barnsley Unite branch secretary Tony Rushforth at a-rushforth@sky.com Cheques should be made payable to TGWU 9/9 Barnsley and sent to A Rushforth, 45 Tune Street, Wombwell, Barnsley S73 8PX

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