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Bus workers leading Manchester march victorious on May Day

PUBLIC transport bosses have dropped a “fire-and-rehire” attack on 400 Manchester bus workers, a May Day rally in support of the strikers was told today.

The nine-week strike action against public transport giant Go Ahead will continue until the strikers vote on a new deal proposed by bosses, the strikers’ union representative from Unite told the rally.

Hundreds of trade unionists and campaigners marched from Manchester city centre to the strikers’ picket line and rally two miles away despite pouring rain and bitter cold.

Unite branch secretary Colin Hayden told the rally after the march: “Today marks the start of the 10th week of our industrial action against fire and rehire. Our members decided they will not stand for the industrial terrorism of fire and rehire.

“Now we have had a deal from London from the Go Ahead group. It says fire and rehire has been withdrawn. Two members sacked will be given their jobs back. Sham, bogus disciplinaries have been stopped.

“But the deal is not done yet. We will return to work if and when our members vote for the deal. Until then we will be on strike.”

He told the strikers: “You have been a credit to yourselves, to your families, to the country and to our movement.

“You have shown that when employers come for you there is only one way: to stand together.”

The rally also heard from Salford and Eccles Labour MP Rebecca Long Bailey who warned that the government wants to use fire and rehire to impose a “Singapore-style” economy on Britain with no workers’ rights and no minimum wage.

Ms Long Bailey said: “Fire and rehire is one of the most pernicious things we have seen since attacks on workers in Victorian times.

“Boris Johnson has been meeting business leaders because he wants to turn Britain into the Singapore of Europe. But we are not going to let that happen.

“This show of solidarity sends a powerful message: ‘We will not stand for fire and rehire. We will stand with these workers in solidarity. We will end fire and rehire’.”

The strike has united and galvanised trade union and campaign activists in north-west England and nationwide.

Many were represented on today’s march, including the People’s Assembly, Fire Brigades Union, Unison, Unite, Manchester Trade Union Council, CND, Stand Up to Racism and the Public and Commercial Service union’s samba band.

Workers carrying a new banner created for the bus strikers led the march. The banner’s design is based on a picket line photograph taken by Morning Star photographer Neil Terry.

The bus workers will meet tomorrow to discuss the proposals.

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