Optare strikers escalate their action

At a meeting held on the picket line on Friday 30th October, Optare workers voted to escalate their ongoing strike action in their long-running pay dispute from two days a week, to four days a week starting from Monday 16th November.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

Two weeks into the strike, many of the deliveries coming into the workplace are turning back at the request of the pickets, on the first day of the strike alone 20 out of 21 deliveries did so. So whilst management have refused to budge at the negotiation table, they have started trying to reschedule deliveries for other days of the week. Additional cameras have been put up and extra security hired in an attempt to intimidate pickets.

After having topped up workers pay to 100% during furlough, and with a much reduced demand for orders given the impact of Covid on public transport, the company claim that they can’t afford more. However, Optare workers are paid less than workers for other manufacturers, and the company have brought in increasing numbers of contractors over the recent period, including bringing people into the workplace from Covid hotspots.

Optare’s ultimate owners are the wealthy Hinduja brothers – the two of whom reside in the UK, Sri and Gopi, topped the Sunday Times rich list in 2019, slipping to 2nd in 2020 with an estimated £16bn fortune between them.

Workers should demand the company open their books – and answer why workers can’t be paid a wage comparable to other bus manufacturers if the company can afford to bring in increasing numbers of contractors? If the current owners refuse to pay up then Optare should be brought into public ownership to guarantee jobs. Even if orders are down now, investment in public transport will be vital to tackle the looming climate crisis, and publicly owned, democratically owned bus manufacturing would be vital to developing a socialist plan for public transport.

Please send messages of support to the shop stewards via davidbrain99@icloud.com and donations to the strike fund via bank transfer to
Bank: Unity trust bank
Account name: NE/200/1 Optare Branch
Account number: 20327132
Sort code: 60-83-01

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