Go North West

Bus drivers will finally be returning to their regular Salford routes after winning their battle against ‘fire and rehire’, ending the longest strike their union has ever seen.

Go North West Salford’s union Unite has defeated attempts to cut drivers’ wages after an agreement has been reached with employers, ending one of the country’s longest-running industrial transport disputes.

The parent company, Go Ahead Group, said it is “pleased” to reach an agreement with drivers after union members within the company went out on strike for 82 days.

The Unite union, which represents more than 400 bus drivers across Greater Manchester including Salford, voted 4-1 to strike back in February in response to Go North West’s parent company proposing to fire employees and rehire them on cheaper contracts.

After “high level talks” between the union workers and Go Ahead, it was decided no pay cuts would be implemented and changes to sick pay polices will be made to support their workers.

Unite estimated that drivers would lose more than 10 per cent of their pay if the proposals had gone ahead.

Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey described the result as a “tremendous victory”. He said:

“We’re delighted to have secured a clear commitment from the Go-Ahead Group that fire and rehire will never be used by them, bringing relief to thousands of workers who feared that they were next.”

This region-wide strike gained support from gained support from all over the north west with the likes of Salford Mayor Paul Dennett and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham supporting the cause and former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn saying that Unite’s “brilliant solidarity” was the key to getting this proposal overturned.

Fire and rehire, which involves companies firing employees and rehiring them on a lower wage, remains legal in the UK. Recently companies such as British Gas have employed this tactic and British Airways threatened to use it, leaving unions frustrated and increasing calls for it to be outlawed. McCluskey said:

“The government itself has described fire and rehire as a `bully boy practice’ but the only way to guarantee UK workers are protected from this pernicious practice that’s ripping through our workplaces is for the government to follow the lead of other European countries and ban it once and for all.”

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