November 20, 2023
From Socialist Worker (UK)

Three Go North East strikers in yellow hi-vis vests with a large red Unite flag

Go North East strikers are determined to win (Picture: Unite North East)

Strikes at Go North East are continuing indefinitely. Over 1,300 bus drivers in and around Newcastle are in their fourth week of all-out strike, and their sixth of action.

The drivers, who are members of the Unite union, want a 13 percent pay increase so that their pay is in-line with Go North West bus drivers in Manchester.

Talks last Tuesday again ended in “a stalemate” after Go North East refused to increase its pay offer.

Unite’s general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Go North East’s utter unwillingness to improve its pay offer in the slightest shows its blatant disregard for the wellbeing of its workers and the communities they serve.

“Go North East could end the strikes with a stroke of a pen by utilising the merest fraction of its profits but it is choosing not to do so.”

City Transport Group is running a scab service. Go North East has also been continuing to run school and some contracted routes. But it now also intends to restore a skeleton service on “as many routes as possible”.

“These duties are being covered by office workers and managers with bus driving licences, as well as regular drivers who have opted to return to work,” Go North East said.

Graham said the company is “grasping at straws”.

But it’s important that mass pickets close down the scabs used by Go North East and any other operators.

  • Bus drivers employed by Centrebus in Luton are set to strike on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week over pay. The drivers, members of the Unite union, are paid £1.91 less than drivers in the city working for Arriva.
  • Around 150 First Bus engineers in Glasgow have voted on a deal by 92 percent. Unite says their hourly wage will increase by a minimum of 17.6 percent by April 2024.

Some 1,200 drivers for the same two companies are set to strike on Friday of this week until 1 December over pay.

  • Southampton bus drivers could strike over pay. GMB union members have rejected Unilink bosses’ offer of a below-inflation 5.28 percent rise.

Klarius workers say the firm makes them sick

Workers at Klarius Products in Stoke-on-Trent are striking every weekday until 1 December.

The Unite union members are battling over sick pay and other issues.

The workers began a series of strikes in September in response to the company’s threats to fire and rehire them in order to drastically reduce sick pay.

The company has a two-tier workforce. Workers on the traditional contracts have a company sick pay scheme, while workers on the inferior, newer contracts only receive statutory sick pay (SSP).

Klarius’ solution is to introduce a new sick pay scheme, but it would result in many workers experiencing sizeable cuts in their entitlement.

The workers have since rejected an offer from the company that would have seen their sick pay reduced over three years to just two weeks from five.

One long-standing worker who did not want to be named for fear of retribution told local media, “This is the first strike at Klarius.

“The situation is not fair, especially at a time when people are struggling financially.”

Another long-standing worker, Phillip Emery, added, “They have basically abused the most loyal people who have worked there. They call it levelling up but it’s levelling us down.”

The company produces parts and spares of car emission equipment.