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Historic victory for Go North West bus drivers over ‘fire and rehire’

BUS drivers in Manchester celebrated a historic victory today after defeating attempts to “fire and rehire” them.

The Go North West drivers voted overwhelmingly to accept a negotiated agreement, ending one of Britain’s longest-running industrial disputes after more than 80 days of strike action.

Unite said the company has agreed to the union’s demand that it will not use “fire and rehire,” which it says will safeguard pay and conditions for thousands of employees across the Go-Ahead Group.

The deal was presented to a mass meeting of the drivers today at the company’s Queens Road depot in Manchester.

Unite said the drivers now no longer stand to lose thousands of pounds in wages every year.

And it ends the longest running strike in Unite’s history after members at Go North West in Manchester launched an all-out strike at the end of February.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “This is a tremendous victory by Unite’s members at Go North West who through their dedication, solidarity and commitment have defeated the attempt to fire and rehire them.  

“I pay tribute to them, sustaining a strike during the challenge of lockdown, and thank this incredible community for their brilliant support through these long weeks which definitely helped keep heads held high.

“We’re also 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.  

“Once again, the best defence for working people in this country is their union.”

Mr McCluskey said the dispute should send “a clear and unequivocal” message to all employers that Unite will never accept fire and rehire and will do everything in its power to prevent it.

“The government itself has described fire and rehire as a ‘bully boy practice’,” he said.

“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.  

“Urgent action is needed to strengthen the UK’s weak laws because it’s simply too easy for employers to make brutal changes to contracts, sometimes taking thousands of pounds from workers’ wages.”

The strike drew support from across north-west England, including from Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and former Coronation Street actor Julie Hesmondhalgh.

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