Sheffield: Firefighters, bus, post all in battle

Submitted by Newcastle on 5 November, 2009 - 10:36 Author: By Gemma Short

Two big and important industrial disputes — on the buses and in the fire service — are currently going on in Sheffield.

Workers from First Buses have been out on clusters of 24 hour strikes in two separate disputes over pay, management bullying and disciplinary procedures for several weeks now.

The pay dispute, which was South Yorkshire wide, has now been settled Sheffield is the only place the bullying dispute is going on and is therefore now on strike on its own.

Despite being knocked back when Rotherham and Doncaster went back to work, the picket lines in Sheffield are still strong and workers are determined not to back down.

Bullying has increasingly been becoming a huge fact of working life for bus workers. At First Buses in Sheffield, any incident on the road often leads straight to a final warning. Every day workers are in fear about who might be next to get the sack.

This sort of management bullying must be challenged; this is not the only workplace this is happening. We need to show the bosses that they won’t break our unions.

Firefighters in South Yorkshire are also in a dispute over hours. Without meaningful consultation management has decided to move firefighters from a two nights nine hour, two nights 15 hour shift pattern to a four nights 12 hour shift pattern. Workers say that this will not only does this effect them, but will be also be detrimental to the service.

Firefighters have already staged a few 24 hour strikes. Management’s response was to tell workers that if they took the shift pattern changes now, they could go to ACAS in the new year.

Firefighters are now staging a series of eight hour walk outs until Wednesday 4 November. In addition CWU picket lines remain strong, with workers organising to try and convince temporary workers not to scab.

However, firefighters on the picket line felt they had little control over the dispute and had little information from their union’s headquarters. Workers from all sections need to take control of disputes, organise local committees to prevent strike breaking, organise pickets and propaganda.

We also need to link up these disputes, with that of the postal workers. Here are three key industries in Sheffield, and a defeat for one will be a blow for all. The local labour movement and the left should rally support and solidarity for all three disputes.

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