Go North East pay strikers should be proud of their struggle, and many wanted to keep fighting (Picture: Unite)

Go North East bus workers have very narrowly accepted a pay deal to end their all-out strike.

Last Friday they agreed to the offer by 749 in favour and 658 against. The majority was even narrower among drivers— 616 for and 609 against. The Unite union had recommended the offer.

The 1,300 workers will receive a 10.5 percent rise backdated to 1 July 2023, and keep their same terms and conditions.

There will also be a further rise from January of 0.7 percent and another on 1 July 2024—a minimum of 4 percent or in line with inflation. The pay rise will see wages go from £12.83 to £14.27 an hour from 1 January next year. That’s still well short of the basic demand for equality that began the strike.

The strikers were fighting for pay that matched Go North West drivers in Manchester who are on £15.54 an hour. A large group of workers wanted to fight for more.

But the approach of Christmas and the fact they had been on indefinite action since 28 October tipped the balance. An all-out strike has won a lot more than bosses originally offered.

Reps refused to be picked off, insisting on negotiating with management together no matter which section of the workforce they were representing.

But the union did not tackle scabbing and make the action a national focus. City Transport Group was running an hourly scab service in some areas. Go North East was continuing to run school and some contracted routes, as well as a skeleton service in the last few weeks.

During the course of the strike, the drivers rejected a 10.3 percent rise by 81 percent on a 93 percent turnout.

Picketing was lively to the end. The Queen song “Another one bites the dust” played at the Dunston depot.

The strikers were right to take all-out action and to stay on strike while they voted over the offer. But a vote to reject the deal, confront scabbing and widen the battle could have seen them win what they set out to achieve.

Isabel Ringrose and Jim Hutchinson

Fights for NHS pay justice at Barts and in Dudley

Workers at Barts Health NHS Trust returned to picket lines this week as part of a long running battle over pay, rotas, bonuses and safe staffing. 

Nurses, lab technicians, catering workers, domestics, porters and security staff in the Unite union joined the walkout at Barts’ four main hospital sites, including the giant London Hospital in the east of the city.

A group of lab worker pickets made a point at booing their senior managers as they went into work on Monday morning. They are furious after bosses ripped up their existing schedules and imposed a new rota in which all workers will cover all shifts.

That will mean technicians that have built their lives around working days or nights will now have to make new arrangements, or leave the job.

They, along with some nurses, planned to be out until Wednesday. 

Porters and domestic workers previously employed by Serco are furious after not being paid the government’s “Covid bonus”. 

They will pile pressure on managers by staying on strike until after this weekend. 

All the different groups at the trust say they will continue striking until all the disputes are resolved.

A group of health workers in Dudley, West Midlands, faces a similar struggle to those at Barts. 

Around 60 workers in hospital catering and administration have been told they will also not receive the government’s “Covid bonus”, worth up to £3,789.

The Unite union members are employed by subcontracting giant Mitie. 

Now workers are going on strike. Strikes are set to continue on Friday this week, Monday and Friday next week and 18 December.

Yuri Prasad

Imperial Logistics strike against assault on pay

 A pay battle continues at sub-contracted delivery company Imperial Logistics at the BMW Mini plant in Oxford.

Imperial is threatening its drivers with a permanent 20 percent pay cut or redundancies, allegedly due to BMW rejigging its production lines.

Workers were out on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday last week. Strikes were scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Thursday this week, and next week.

Amazon pay struggle spreads

Amazon strikes could spread to another warehouse and reinforce the pay fight in Coventry.

Workers at the Minworth Amazon fulfilment near Birmingham—which has only recently opened—have voted to strike over pay.

An impressive 100 percent of workers in the GMB union have backed action.

This follows big strikes and picket lines at the Amazon centre in Coventry last month.

It’s not a moment too soon for the struggle against Amazon to spread.

Amazon workers everywhere should be inspired by the strikes in Coventry and the vote to strike at Minworth.

The GMB says, “strike dates will be announced in the coming weeks”. That needs to happen speedily and be coordinated with Coventry action.

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