From 1984/5 to Looming Bus Strikes is This The Underclass Uprising?

BUS passengers across South Yorkshire could face days of disruption to their journeys after drivers voted overwhelmingly to ballot for strike action. Furious employees at First in South Yorkshire have voted almost 10 to one to ballot for strike, after a row broke out with management over the alleged unfair sacking of a trade union official. Members of Unite the Union working for First in Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster took part in a ‘test the water’ postal ballot.

The poll was organised to gauge how many members would consider taking part in a ballot for industrial action, underclassrising understands 403 drivers voted in favour of a ballot – and only 42 were against. If an eventual strike does go ahead, bus services across the county could be disrupted severely by drivers manning a picket line instead of working their shifts.

The strike is welcome, but we have some other concerns, The union have not been vocal over the continued hike of bus fairs, We Want Our Buses Back, a campaign started by Socialist Party members, has been fighting against high fares for years.

The issues such as the lack of low-platform buses, low frequency and particularly the run-down of services, it’s starting to seem like every time we get the bus it’s costing more and more. This isn’t just a minor annoyance, it’s a serious problem. For one thing, bus users tend to be people who can’t afford cars in the first place, so the people most affected by fare increases are those who can afford them the least.

Meanwhile, those who have access to cars aren’t going to be tempted away by overpriced buses, so fare increases mean more cars on the road, and so more traffic congestion, making it harder for everyone to get around. And, without trying to come across like an annoying preachy hippy, it’s really not that great for the planet we live on either.

This would all just be pointless whining, if it wasn’t for the fact that things don’t have to be this way. Like so many other things, buses seem totally outside of our control, but they actually only run because of us – the users who pay for the service to run, and the drivers (and other workers) who actually keep them going. Only a few years ago, Sheffield saw the beginnings of a movement of passengers and drivers, when the We Want Our Buses Back campaign scared the bus bosses into freezing fares for a year (and then became a victim of its own success, because there wasn’t much else to protest about after that). Maybe it’s time to start rebuilding that spirit, so we can remind the Stagecoach and First bosses who really keeps the system going? It won’t be easy, but it’s got to be better than paying silly money just to ride a sodding bus. (plagiarised from fargate speaker no 5)

First said at the time of it was putting up its prices despite falling oil prices – because it bulk-bought its fuel for next year in the summer, when the cost was high. But the rise also follows a hefty increase in First Group’s UK profits and despite its South Yorkshire arm already charging more than some of the firm’s other British bus subsidiaries.

So from January 3, this year, single fares was increased by 10p, day tickets by 50p to £4.50 for travel across the county or £4 for travel only in Sheffield, Rotherham or Doncaster. Weekly tickets was rised by £1, while monthly tickets will rise from £54 to £60 in Sheffield, and from £50 to £54 in Rotherham and Doncaster. This being the third increase in as many years.

All of this when we are spun the lie of Climate Change told that we should increase our use of public transport, this bleating from The Middle Class who it seems have decided that the lies we are told over climate change, of course it matters how we treat the earth, 25 years on we can but learn from The Great Miners Strike of 1984/85

Here is what Dave Dougless said in his review of this Book  A Civil War Without Guns

The miners represented a social block to everything  Thatcherism stood for. Her economic and social programme, centrally the control of labour, could not proceed unhindered while the miners remained undefeated. “The Enemy Within” was a correct description in terms of class conflict. Certainly she had aspired to lop off what was seen as marginal capacity in the industry which stood in the way of super profit and a more privitisable coal industry. This would be unlikely to be achieved without a defeat of the NUM. For these reasons, the host of economic facts suggesting that there were actually few if any unprofitable pits in macro economic terms, doesn’t matter. It wasn’t really an argument about unprofitable pits, a closed pit producing nothing, with an unemployed workforce earning and spending nothing, was far more uneconomic than a one fluctuating between individual profit and loss. This fight among other things, was about slimming down the coal industry for privatisation, at the same time stamping the managerial right to manage on the work force, that meant taking them on .

Just the same now, our class need to take the greedy bosses on, and also take on The real “Enemy Within”: The Middle Class. We Want our Buses Back have a Public Meeting at 7 pm on 25th March 2008 at The Quakers Meeting House, St James St next to The Cathedral. The first time we saw the slogan another world is possible was during 1984, 25 years on are we about to see the underclass rise off their knees, we can but hope so. We will be there side by side with The Striking Bus Workers..

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