We, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) want to express our deep concern and strong condemnation of the unfair dismissal of Oscar Alvarez, Union Representative of the IWW at the West Perivale garage.
Oscar Alvarez has been a London bus driver for 8 1/2 years. He reached the 10th position nationwide in Blackpool Best Bus Driver of the Year 2007 competition, which to date is still unbeaten by any Metroline driver. But Oscar’s sacking is far from being an isolated occurrence. This is part of an escalating wave of sackings on the buses over the last few years, which has seen all London bus companies imposing terrible contracts on new starters, often without union agreement or any serious attempt to fight this ‘race to the bottom’.
Beginning in December 2012 new contracts for all bus drivers began to be rolled out, first Brentford garage and then West Perivale in February. Whereas the Brentford contracts were all accepted, in West Perivale there was a furious rejection by the drivers who refused to sign, apart from a half-dozen or so.
Oscar Alvarez was one of those drivers, bravely opposing these blatant attacks to their terms and conditions, only to be sacked soon after following a minor altercation with a car driver on the road who had cut up his bus.
What is worst, during the disciplinary that resulted in his dismissal there were a number of breaches in procedure which rendered the process unfair and disproportionate, most notably, the withholding of crucial CCTV footage which Oscar could not access prior to the disciplinary. We are certain that, far from constituting gross misconduct, Oscar’s behaviour ought to be construed as an attempt to correct the driving behaviour of a another driver who had not only endangered her own safety, but also that of her baby and other road users. As such, we urge Metroline to reconsider the merits of this case and to reinstate Oscar Alvarez
Now Oscar needs all the support he can get in order to win reinstatement, as it was already achieved by fellow worker Gerry Downing last Tuesday 30th April following his successful appeal against dismissal. Gerry, from the Cricklewood garage, was also sacked on spurious charges. Gerry Downing is a Unite member and the Chair of Grass Roots left
Understanding that these gross misconduct verdicts were undoubtedly management revenge for the strong reaction to the attempts to impose new contracts on all drivers, an impressive demonstration of support was gathered in a public meeting that took place last Monday 29th of April, called by the Brent Trade Union Council.
Several sacked bus drivers attended and their stories were similar; harsh dismissal decisions for what were minor incidents. And the reasons were identified by many of the speakers and from the floor; new contracts from January 2012 took on starters on far lower terms and conditions than existing bus drivers.
For these reasons it has now been articulated wide ranging support for a bus driver defence campaign as a rank and file body on the London buses to fight these increasing victimisations.
The Industrial Workers of the World joins forces with this rank and file initiative and demands not only for the immediate reinstatement of our member and union representative Oscar Alvarez, but for all the London bus drivers to keep the resistance going and REFUSE to sign any new contracts.
Whichever union you belong to, we must hold together, because they can’t force us if we ALL refuse
For Oscar’s case, the IWW are mobilising our members and supporters by encouraging people to send letters and make phone calls this week expressing their dismay at Oscar’s sacking to the Metroline Bus Company. Supporters will also be leafleting outside the Cricklewood Bus Garage.
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TAKE ACTION. SUPPORT OUR BUS DRIVERS. END METROLINE RACE TO THE BOTTOM
REINSTATE OSCAR ALVAREZ NOW!