Thousands of bus workers in London are gearing up for a summer of discontent after drivers at four of the major bus operators voted overwhelmingly to throw out their managements’ pay offers.
The votes give some sense of the growing mood on the buses for action over pay.
At First London, workers across nine Capital and Centrewest garages voted by 99 percent to reject an offer of 3.5 percent. Unite union reps are now preparing for a postal ballot over action.
Workers at Metrobus voted 95.8 percent against their pay offer, with 92.8 percent also indicating they are willing to take strike action. At Arriva South, Unite members voted by around 90 percent against the pay offer with a similar number voting in favour of strikes.
At Metroline, Unite union members voted by 97 percent – 1,713 to 52 – against an offer of 3.5 percent.
At every one of the 11 Metroline garages, the vote was over 92 percent against the offer.
At Cricklewood in north west London only one person voted to accept the pay deal, with the remaining 229 rejecting the offer.
A driver from the garage told Socialist Worker, “The vote shows that people are sick of being treated like rubbish. Everyone’s saying the next move should be strike action – we don’t want this dragging on.”
The votes are part of the Unite union’s campaign for a London-wide rate of pay that would see all drivers on at least £30,000 a year or with a 5 percent rise – whichever is higher – based on a 38-hour week.
Bus workers from across the city will take their campaign to the mayor’s office with a demonstration to City Hall on Thursday of next week.
Workers doing the same jobs currently earn very different rates at different bus operators.
The pay gap between companies can be as much as £8,000 when shift allowances and unsocial hours payments are taken into account.
Pete Kavanagh, a Unite organiser, said that bus workers’ pay does not reflect the difficult and important job they do.
“Bus workers keep this city moving. Our members carry six million passengers in the capital a day, more than all other modes of transport put together.
“They work in extremely stressful conditions, and many of them, especially those working for companies at the lower end of the market can’t even afford to live in our city.”
Demonstrate for London-wide higher rate of pay and better safety and recognition at work, Thursday 24 July, assemble 11am at Tower Hill for march to rally at City Hall at 12.30pm. Called by the Unite union. More details go to » www.londonbusworkers.com