After just six days of strike action, National Express West Midlands bus drivers have won a 16.2% pay rise. This begins to reverse years of declining real wages.
The deal also includes an improvement to overtime rates being made permanent, an increase in the length of accident pay and improved rates for some public holiday working.
The way in which Unite members showed rock solid support for the strike in the face of management pressure and at some garages having the police called on the picket line is a credit to the workforce at NXWM.
As one driver at West Brom told us, "management never thought we'd go on strike - they got a nasty surprise".
The success of the strike in winning a pay rise well beyond what the company were originally willing to give puts down a platform to win future improvements to pay, working conditions and rostering agreements.The momentum from the current dispute can’t be lost as a chance to strengthen the union.
A renewed committee of garage and route reps to talk through the shared issues across the company, along with regular meetings in the garages to hear from and feed back to the membership is the best way to hold management to any commitments made.
By taking one week of action, bus drivers have succeeded in emptying out a number of town and city centres around the region, showing their vital role in keeping the local services and businesses running. The fact that National Express alone has lost millions in revenue per strike day shows the money that drivers generate for the company every time they show up for work.
The victory of bus drivers will be an inspiration to workers across the West Midlands currently struggling for a living pay rise. Commenting on the number of beeping horns from posties and bin workers on the picket at Yardley Wood, one driver put it best: “everyone’s feeling the pinch – everyone should go on strike!”
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