The recent news that the parent company of Go Ahead Ireland has been bought for €753m by Bidco, a consortium consisting of Australian company Kinetic and Spanish company Globalvia, has seen its share price jump on the London Stock Exchange. Good news for capitalist investors but is it good news for Go-Ahead workers and bus passengers?
In a statement published online the new owner’s state: ‘Bidco also recognise the important role Go Ahead recognised trade unions and other employee representative bodies play in the success of the business for the benefit of these stakeholders.’
What does this mean? How would a private investment company define ‘success’? Is it the provision of an efficient, punctual, and reliable bus service for the general public? Or do they mean increased profits and dividends for shareholders?
In a profit driven capitalist company, it is only ever the latter.
So what role do Bidco expect trade unions to play in the ‘success’ of the business?
A company with shareholders and other investors feasting at the trough, would want trade unions to manage the expectations of their workers by refraining from demands for pay increases, or ensure any demands are minimal and coupled with an ‘increase in productivity’ a euphemism for driving down working conditions.
SIPTU the trade union representing Go Ahead workers, should resist any approaches by management for a partnership deal. Instead, they should fight for above inflation pay increases; and, to defend the working conditions of their members. The RMT in Britain has shown the benefits of a militant fighting approach to defend their members’ living standards.
Green or Greed? Go Ahead’s Decarbonisation Plan Raises Deeper Questions
Following their takeover of Go Ahead, Bidco have been trumpeting their plan for the ‘Decarbonisation’ of the fleet. Their declared aim is to move from diesel to ‘greener’ fuel.
We all know how the price of diesel has risen over the last year, so it makes sense that a profit driven company would look for an alternative. But the question must asked if the alternative is, in fact, any ‘greener’?
The claim is that electric buses would have no emissions, but there are questions about carbon emissions during the manufacture of the lithium ion batteries that power these buses. There are also concerns about the exploitation of miners in the sourcing of lithium and precious metals needed for these batteries and the environmental impact of extraction, which like everything else under capitalism, is done for a profit, not an ecological motive.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell buses are also problematic. The production of hydrogen for fuel can release enough CO2 to cancel out any benefits to the environment, and hydrogen released during the manufacturing process can damage the Ozone layer, which could be one explanation for an increase in the hole over the Antarctic last year. The extraction of hydrogen from water is happening globally on an industrial scale again for private profit, not the planet or the public good.
A Socialist Public Transport System
Militant Left argue for a nationalised public transport service, free at the point of use, run for the needs of the people and not for profit. A service run with low emissions would be welcome as long as long as it is not linked to the exploitation of workers in the neo-colonial world, or underhanded tactics to hide the detrimental effects production of any low emission technology would have on the environment.
The take-over of Go-Ahead by Bidco should serve as a warning of what happens when vital public services, like transport are taken out of public ownerships. They become assets for the capitalist class; to be sweated for extra profit at the expense of the workforce and the public. A truly green and efficient public transport service cannot be achieved under the profit driven capitalist system, but only through a socialist transformation of society on a global scale.