MANCHESTER’S largest bus company, Go North West, has been accused by Unite the Union of using Covid-19 as an excuse to fire and then re-hire bus drivers for £2,000 a year less than they are now paid.
Three times members of the public have mounted protests and blockaded the depot preventing morning rush hour buses from leaving.
In the last fortnight members of the public succeeded in completely stopping the operations and cost Go North West ‘a substantial amount of money’ a source said.
Police turned out in force, acting as though they are the company’s private security firm, and even allowed Go North West buses to be driven along restricted residential routes.
According to a unitelive publication, released this month, when the local Unite Rep was presented with the management’s proposal he was told to he had to accept it on behalf of his members without allowing them to be consulted.
When the rep refused, senior managers tried to bully him into agreeing to the pay cuts without even threatening to sack him if continued to refuse.
The company then banned him from talking about their sacking and rehiring plan with any of his members.
The wage cutting and anti-union tactic is the brainchild of new managing direct Nigel Featham who joined the company last June, just as the fire and rehire tactic was tried by public service workers Labour controlled Tower Hamlets council in East London.
Unite regional officer, Steve Davies, said that the bus company is trying to make the drivers foot the bill for reducing costs while ‘top bosses and backroom staff are exempt’ from cuts.
An indicative ballot held by Unite received a 94% support to hold a strike ballot.
News of the company’s brutal practise has reached well beyond the city to Sweden where Go-Ahead plans to start operations.
A Social Democrat member of the Swedish Parliament wrote in Dagens Arena, one of the country’s popular newspapers: ‘In the UK, Go-Ahead refuses to negotiate with the Unite union in good faith, using ugly anti-union tactics, such as repeatedly pressuring and harassing workplace union representatives to get them to accept the deterioration without talking to members first’.
The company entered the Manchester area early last year and it looks as though ex-Arriva bosss Featham’s the heavy-handed management style could end up costing Go West more than any wage cuts.
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