12. Breaking the Speed limit

A Speed rider had written to the union previously and so they knew where and when we met. Then one evening in July 1990, as we sat down to a normal DIWU meeting, two Speed riders arrived and asked if we could send some delegates straight away to a mass meeting with the Speed management in Docklands. Alan and Adam jumped onto their bikes, followed them there and joined the meeting. The management didn’t even realise that they did not work for them. The talks ended in deadlock and so the riders decided to strike from first thing next morning. Next morning Alan, Pia and Adam went along from the DIWU to offer help and advice. Four Speed riders went inside to negotiate and had the good sense to bring a tape recorder which they plonked down on the table to prevent management from making promises that they would not fulfil.

Pia: The strike involved 30 out of 32 riders which was a very good percentage. The two scabs were despised anyway. In addition, the Speed management had got two more riders doivn from their Cambridge office, who possibly did not know there was a strike on. As each minute ticked away the management became more and more panicky, coming out sweating and begging the riders to go back to work. After one and a quarter hours the management offered a deal that the riders accepted. It was an improvement on the original proposed cuts in wages, but not a total victory.

Afterwards we bumped into some Speed riders and asked them about things, some said it was a good result and that the DIWU had helped. Others said it was bad and that the DIWU should have done more. You can’t please everybody. About six months later we heard that the Speed riders had another strike that was a total disaster. The management were well prepared this time and got West One to cover all the jobs, so the Speed strikers went back to work completely defeated. The tactic of picketing the customers premises would have particularly helped the Speed riders during the second strike.