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20/04/2021 - Manchester Bus Strike - End Fire and Rehire

Stop Fire and Rehire FBThe long-running bus strike in Manchester is set to continue as peace talks between management and the union collapsed without agreement.

The talks between management at Go North West and Unite, the UK's largest union, failed on Thursday, April 1, with Unite asserting that bus drivers who had worked through the pandemic "deserved better".

Unite says the dispute is a result of the company deciding to fire and rehire its bus drivers and attempt to force them to accept vastly inferior contracts.

Over 400 drivers who are members of Unite have been on all-out strike since Sunday, February 28.

Unite say that under Go North West's fire and rehire plans, bus drivers will be forced to work longer for no additional pay.

They calculated Go North West is expecting its drivers to undertake 130 hours of unpaid work per annum, resulting in drivers being £2,500 a year worse off, and intends to alter the existing sick pay policy, resulting in a 67 percent cut in sick pay for workers with over five years’ service.

During the 12 days of negotiations, which took place under the guidance of the meditation service Acas, Unite put forward proposals to achieve savings of £1.3 million per annum, but say Go North West’s management deemed this insufficient.

During the negotiations, Unite claimed Go North West threatened the Queens Road Depot may close if the union did not accept its cuts.

Unite said workers were given just eight days to accept the new contracts or be sacked on May 8.

Unite North West regional secretary Ritchie James said: “Unite has tried to resolve this dispute through negotiations and put forward over £1.3 million of savings proposals, but Go North West deemed this insufficient.

"As a result of the failure of the talks Unite will be stepping up its campaign to ensure that Go North West drops its plans to fire and rehire its loyal workers.

"Bus drivers who have kept working throughout the pandemic, risking their health and that of their families, deserve better than this.

"Manchester’s passengers deserve better than this, Go North West is forcing them to use its dangerous rogue bus service, where the risk of Covid transmission is greatly increased and where numerous other regulations are breached or ignored.

"It is essential that everyone in Greater Manchester speaks with one voice, from passengers to local politicians, and condemns this sickening use of fire and rehire that Go North West is utilising to make workers poorer and boost its profits."

Go Ahead has tried to break the strike at the Queens Road depot by subcontracting all its 30 routes to around a dozen smaller rogue bus and coach operators and keep them running, having set up a new base at another depot in Greater Manchester. The Labour authority that has regulatory powers over local bus services has sadly allowed this.