Go North West strikes are over
Operator and trade union come to agreement, ending industrial action
Industrial action at Go North West’s Queens Road depot, Manchester, has been called off. New working practices have been agreed on.
The deal was presented to a mass meeting of the drivers, members of the UK’s leading union, Unite. This was followed by a workplace ballot where the union’s members voted overwhelmingly to accept the negotiated agreement bringing to a close the 85-day strike, the longest in the history of Unite and the longest in recent history for the entire passenger transport sector.
“Go North West now looks forward to building a positive working environment for all colleagues at Queens Road and continuing to improve services for our customers and communities” – Nigel Featham, Managing Director, Go North West
Nigel Featham, Managing Director, Go North West, said: “We are pleased to confirm the end of all industrial action at the Queens Road depot in Manchester.
“A new collective agreement has been reached. This positive outcome for the depot, its employees and stakeholders follows a period of intense and productive negotiations between senior representatives of Go-Ahead and Unite.
“The deal agreed enables the introduction of revised working practices under a new Collective Agreement providing a solid foundation on which to build a sustainable future for the depot.
“Go North West now looks forward to building a positive working environment for all colleagues at Queens Road and continuing to improve services for our customers and communities.”
Unite accused Go North West of using ‘fire and rehire’ tactics when negotiating new contracts with staff. The changes to staff working practices have been called for by the operator to help keep the depot open. The operation was experiencing ongoing losses of £1.8m a year, which the Go-Ahead-owned operator claims was due to outdated working practices.
“This dispute should also send a clear and unequivocal message to all employers that Unite will never accept fire and rehire for our members” – Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary
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.
“This dispute should also send a clear and unequivocal message to all employers that Unite will never accept fire and rehire for our members – that we will do everything in our power to prevent it, and we will win.
“The government itself has described fire and rehire as a `bully boy practice’ 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.”