#NoGo: solidarity with the Go NW bus strike

Unite members at Go Ahead NW’s Queen’s Road bus garage have been on indefinite strike since Sunday 28 February 2021 against #fireandrehire being used to impose cuts to pay, sick pay, and many other detrimental changes such as five hours driving without leaving the cab to stretch or use a toilet. We all have a stake in the strike’s success: to counter the scourge of #fireandrehire, to prevent inadequate sick pay risking public health in a pandemic, and to avoid a race to the bottom across the transport industry.

VICTORY: On 17 May 2021, during their twelfth week of continuous strike, Unite members voted by 78.5% to accept an offer from the company which Unite describes as a huge victory.

Picture of Queen's Road bus garage with strikers outside and campaign hashtags

Amongst the gains from the strike are an end to fire and rehire, the reinstatement of two sacked workers, disciplinaries dropped against 37 more, winning back nearly all their sick pay entitlement and time allowances, and preventing Go NW making future changes to terms and conditions unilaterally.

Go North West are trying to break the strike by outsourcing services to companies including APH, Edwards coaches, Belle Vue, Selwyns, Tyrers, Travellers Choice, Red Rose Travel, Bullocks, Connexions Buses, MP Travel, Regalway (Viking), Vision Coaches, Atlantic Travel, Mostonian 2000 Coaches, Coach Travel Solutions, Harris Travel, Red Routemaster, Midland Classic, York Pullman and Widnes Coaches. Many of the scab services are using vehicles which don’t meet accessibility standards and there have been examples of buses running with too many passengers to be Covid safe and of dangerous driving.

There has been progress in the dispute and reps are working through details of an offer from the employer with the intention that once the wording is satisfactory it can be put to members. In the meantime, the strike continues.

The protest planned for 5pm on Thursday 13 May has been cancelled because the strikers will be busy considering documents from the company.

On Monday 3 May, as part of the Manchester May Day Festival, there was a march from Piccadilly Gardens to Queen’s Road for a rally which heard an update on the strike and various speakers. Some highlights are here:

Manchester TUC was sent this video which appears to show alarming abuse, threats and violence against peaceful protesters opposing #FireAndRehire and supporting the #ManchesterBusStrike. What a different picture to the unsubstantiated smears against the strikers.

On Saturday 3 April Manchester TUC and the People’s Assembly Against Austerity organised a cavalcade across Manchester, a rally and a solidarity march. There’s a full livestream thanks to the People’s Assembly and Unite have made a great clip of Unite rep Colin Hayden’s speech.

Locals outside their house applauding the march going past
Locals applauding the march. Photo: Neil Terry Photography

On 13 March Manchester TUC hosted an online solidarity public meeting for the strike – you can watch the video here:

  • Unite’s Q&A about the dispute
  • Petition calling on Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to back a declaration barring employers like Go North West who execute fire & rehire from bidding for future contracts.
  • Unite has set up a tool to help you email David Brown, the CEO of the Go Ahead bus company group.
  • You can download a model letter you can adapt to send to your MP.
  • Updates on Facebook via Unite North West, GoNW Supporters, and an unofficial campaign page
  • Updates on Twitter via Unite North West, Go North West Supporters and GoAttacks
  • The Queen’s Road garage is at the corner of Queen’s Road and Boyle Street, Cheetham Hill, M8 8UT (map). There are pickets every day from early morning until around 5pm.
  • The in-house part of the strike-breaking effort is being run from Heywood Distribution Park, Pilsworth Road, Heywood, OL10 2TT (map).
  • Routes normally covered by the striking workers: 1, 2, 3, 17, 17A, 18, 33, 33B, 34, 41, 52, 53, X63, 67, 67A, 92, 93, 95, 96, 97, 98, 100, 135, 415, 765, 791, Y9.
  • Schools the strikers provided some services to: All Hallows, Cardinal Langley, Holy Cross College, Our Lady’s, Parrenthorn.
  • Cheques to the strike fund should be payable to “Unite NW 4/5 branch”: