Drivers in Darlington, Durham, Redcar, Stockton and Whitby working for Arriva have started a week long strike over pay.
Unite members rejected a revised pay offer just before Christmas. The drivers are some of the lowest paid across the whole of Arriva buses. Arriva claim that 25% of buses have continued to run over the first 48 hours, but there has been widespread disruption with Unite stating they are willing to re¬enter talks as soon as the company confirm that a revised pay offer would be made. After this week Unite says it will consult members again as to what follow up action will be taken.
Drivers are seeking a £1 per hour increase on the rates for the year starting March 2018.
RMT picket attacked by far right
On 5 January. an RMT picket line of striking Northern guards in Manchester was attacked by far-right thugs connected to the Democratic Football Lads Alliance and the rump English Defence League. It seems the attack may have been an opportunistic action by far¬right activists mobilised for a demo of their own taking place in Manchester on the same day.
An Asian striker was specifically targeted, and was called a “nonce”, “child groomer”, and “paedophile”. The attack shows that the DFLA and similar organisations are not merely groupings of working-class football fans concerned about “extremism” or the problem of child grooming, but are far-right political forces who are violently hostile to the labour movement.
Fortunately the attack was only verbal, with no physical assaults or injuries. This event, like the attack on RMT activists after an anti¬fascist demo in London in the summer, reminds us of the urgent need for the labour movement to take antifascist organising seriously. It’s not good enough to “outsource” anti¬fascism to external campaigns, our unions need to mobilise members under their own banners to confront the far right.
We also need a political alternative to the far right: working-class socialists policies on issues such as jobs and housing, where social despair creates conditions in which the far right grows, combined with an unapologetic internationalism and defence of migrants’ rights to tackle the nationalism of the far right head on.