UK: Arriva North West bus workers in second week of strike

Around 1,800 Arriva North West bus workers are in the second week of an all-out strike over pay. The workers are out at 11 garages across the north west of England—Birkenhead, Bolton, Bootle, Liverpool, Macclesfield, Manchester, Runcorn, Southport, Speke, St Helens, and Winsford. The wage rates for bus drivers vary across the bargaining unit, with those at Winsford on just £11.08 an hour.

Pickets at Arriva North West’s Wythenshawe depot [Photo: WSWS]

The strike began on July 20, after GMB and Unite union members voted by 96 percent on a 72 percent turnout.

The company is seeking to impose what it describes as an 8.5 percent deal under conditions in which RPI inflation is ruling at nearly 12 percent and the lower CPI measure is at 9.4 percent, with predictions it could hit 12 percent in October. Moreover, the companies offer is split into two parts with just 5 percent being paid from April and the rest in October.

World Socialist Web Site Reporters spoke to pickets at Arriva’s depot at Wythenshawe in Manchester.

A driver said that the strike was solid, with the company unable to run most services. “It’s only way forward, it’s the only way you are going to win anything. It’s got to be you’re out of the door and you stay out of the door until it’s resolved. You don’t do one day here, two days there. It doesn’t work, it’ll never work. That goes in management’s favour.”

The driver said that staggering cost of living increases necessitated the strike. “I pay by direct debit every month for gas and electric. I was paying £78 a month and they said that I’d have to up it to £163. I got an email yesterday saying that my direct debit would be £233. I got on the phone and said that I can’t afford that, I’m on strike.