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A CAVALCADE wound through the streets of Manchester on Saturday in support of 400 striking bus workers fighting bosses’ attempts to “fire and rehire” them.
More than 40 vehicles, organised by Manchester People’s Assembly, wound from the city centre to the depot where strikers and supporters lined the street to welcome them, applauding and waving flags of the bus workers’ union Unite.
After the cavalcade arrived a rally took place on a school field near the depot.
The strike action by drivers at profiteer Go North West’s Queens Road depot began on February 28 to resist the attack on their wages and conditions.
The strikers believe that if Go North West succeeds in the scheme — including a pay cut of £2,500 a year — the company will roll out the tactic across its operations in Britain.
Unite’s branch secretary Pat Gleave, a bus driver at the depot, told the Morning Star: “Today we’ve had a fantastic day — a great turnout.
“Support has been amazing. It was a big cavalcade. After the rally we did a march around the depot.
“We’ve been out for 35 days and morale is still high.”
He said other employers were using the fire and rehire tactic to attack wages and conditions.
“And you can see that others are just poised, waiting,” he said.
“If they get away with it at Queens Road other companies will have to reduce wages and conditions to be able to compete.
“Ours is a vital dispute for this region and for the country.”
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham is proposing to take bus services in the district back under public control.
Mr Gleave said: “On Wednesday Manchester Council voted that any company using fire and rehire will not be eligible for franchises to operate buses. That’s good for us.”
Talks broke down last week.
Mr Gleave said: “The company would not move at all. We broke down their figures and all they will make from fire and rehire is £1.4 million. We offered savings of £1.3m but they wouldn’t have it.
“We believe they want to keep coming back for more.”
Go North West managing director Nigel Featham called Unite’s “fire and rehire” claims “misleading” and said the company is losing nearly £2m annually due to “outdated working practices.”
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