On the Manchester First Bus picket line (Picture: Unite North West)

Up to 1,500 bus drivers were set to be on strike in Manchester on Friday this week.

More than 1,000 Manchester Stagecoach bus drivers planned to walk out from Friday to Sunday of this week and Monday of next week.

The Unite union members voted for action after ­rejecting a 4 percent pay offer from June 2023 with a ­further 4 percent in December.

Stagecoach’s latest accounts show its adjusted profit before tax increased 98 percent to £36.4 million in the six months to 29 October 2022.

In 2021-2 it had ­revenues of some £1.2 billion with adjusted profits of £72.2 million.

Meanwhile, some 360 ­drivers from First Manchester are already striking. They get just £13.50 an hour—at least £1 lower than other bus companies in the city pay.

The Unite members rejected a 7.4 percent offer backdated to April which included a further 3.4 ­percent in October and another small rise in January next year.

The drivers voted 96 ­percent in favour of action on a 75 percent ­turnout to strike at depots that include Rochdale, Oldham, Manchester and Ashton.

Strikers have already walked out on 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 13, 21-25, 28 and 31 July.

They were also out on Wednesday and Friday of last week, and were set to strike on Monday, Thursday and Friday of this week. And the strikes are not just about pay. Workers face insulting conditions.

A survey of 184 workers showed that a quarter never have adequate access to a toilet, with 22 having access “some of the time” and 52 percent “occasionally”.

And 61 percent cut back on essentials like food and heating last year.

Some 20 percent have missed mortgage and rent payments, while 15 percent have skipped meals and 4 percent use foodbanks.

Around 14 percent of strikers work over 50 hours a week and a third between 40-50 hours. It means 81 percent report feeling very tired, and 74 ­percent made errors diving as a result.

Bus strikers in Manchester would be strongest if they were able to coordinate indefinite strikes. That is how they can put the most powerful pressure on bus bosses and win the pay deals they need.

Scottish local government strike ballots are spreading

Unions in Scotland are gearing up for what could be a major fight over local government pay.

Up to 30,000 workers could walk out after council employers insisted their offer of just 5.5 percent is final. The unions are arguing for 12 percent or a £4,000 flat-rate rise.

First into battle will be school workers as the new term starts later this month. The GMB Scotland union says workers in cleaning, catering and pupil support in ten councils across the country have voted for strikes.

It says that unless there is a breakthrough in talks with the employers’ umbrella body, Cosla, there will be strikes.

The local authority areas covered so far include Glasgow, Dundee and Fife as well as Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, Orkney and Western Isles.

The Scottish Unison union last week announced that it too is balloting for strikes. And the Unite union says its members will also be out after throwing out the offer in a consultative ballot.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Thousands of our members have voted to strike in education and early years services because they won’t accept a real terms pay cut. Our members deserve far more than the 5 percent being served up by the politicians.”

Keir Greenaway from the GMB said, “It’s pretty shameful that 80 percent of the workforce in councils in Scotland will be worse off under this offer than they would be if they were working in England and Wales.”

All three unions must quickly ballot their other local government workers for strikes—and bring them out too.

No parking strikes in Glasgow

Some 70 Unite union members employed by Glasgow Life at the Emirates Arena, and City Parking walked out on Thursday of last week for 48 hours. “Cosla—this wouldn’t have happened if you’d given us a better offer,” Unite rep Debbie said. “We deserve a better pay rise.”

“It’s a derisory offer,” rep Frannie added. “It’s way below the cost of living. Everyone is struggling—we need more money. We can’t keep living like this.”

A huge 100 percent of Unite workers at City Parking voted to walk out, with 92 percent at Glasgow Life.

Resistance at The 13th Note

Former workers at The 13th Note cafe in Glasgow are continuing their battle over job losses.

The venue has been the subject of a bitter industrial dispute in recent months, with members of the Unite union fighting over pay and conditions.

Staff cited health and safety issues in the cafe— which the owner denied—and The 13th Note was shut down by environmental health in June after mouse droppings were found throughout the food premises.

Union members then voted for a strike. The owner announced the closure of the venue, citing an “onslaught” by Unite. Now the workers say they want to take over the venue.

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