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Dick Turpin rides again
"AT LEAST Dick Turpin wore a mask when he robbed the drivers" reads the strike placard at South Yorkshire First's main Sheffield bus garage.
Over 1,500 bus drivers, all transport union, TGWU members, went on strike for three days last week for better pay and conditions. They will strike again on 17,18 and 19 June. A 1,050-70 vote rejected a revised, supposedly improved, offer - mainly because of the strings which would mean drivers paying for their own pay rises.
This comes after years of the company tightening the screw on drivers' conditions. 42 drivers left the job last month alone. "Would you be abused, threatened and gobbed at for £5.36 an hour?" one driver asked.
It's not like the company can't afford it. Last year South Yorkshire First made around £10 million profit, about a quarter of First Group's total profit. Their offer amounts to about £1 million. "So where's the other £9.1 million going?" another driver asked. The answer is fat cat pay increases.
The First chairman's salary has gone up 59%. Another director gets £510,000 a year and was given £18,000 for a Range Rover. "His car cost twice as much as I earn a year" one driver said.
This same director's pension is worth £2.85 million, yet First workers have had to pay extra to maintain their pensions.
The strike is 100% solid. One striker walks five miles to the picket line every morning (no buses). With the strikes set to run into a second week, the mood is determined to win the £6-an hour claim for starter-drivers (currently £5.36), rising to £7 after two years (currently £6.49 after four years.)
Messages of support and donations to: Martin Mayer, TGWU, 2 Riverside Court, Meadowhall Road, Sheffield 9. 0114 256 2600
In The Socialist 14 June 2003: