London bus workers in the Unite union are to demonstrate at City Hall from 8.30am on Wednesday of next week in the latest stage of their campaign over pay and conditions.
The demonstration will be a key focus to show bus workers still mean business after a planned strike last month by 14,000 workers was called off in the face of coordinated legal action from employers.
A meeting of Unite union reps from across the bus companies has voted unanimously to continue the campaign and reballot all members if necessary.
The demonstration will be a chance for a collective show of strength. Keith Apple, a Unite rep at Thames Buses, told Socialist Worker, “Bus drivers must make a stand. The companies need to see that this strategy of legal action is going to go against them – it is annoying drivers. It’s like the companies are playing games with our lives.”
Many bus workers are still angry that, after thousands of union members voted overwhelmingly to strike, employers sought refuge in the anti-union laws.
At First Group, Metroline and Metrobus, workers had already held strikes before the action was called off.
Brian Pammet, branch chair at Metroline’s Willesden garage told Socialist Worker in a personal capacity that workers were “gutted to say the least” when their strike action was postponed.
He added that union members are particularly angry that the Tories’ anti-union laws still exist under a Labour government – and annoyed that Unite donates thousands of pounds to the “so-called party of the working class”.
“We are more determined than ever to achieve the better pay and conditions we deserve,” he added.
Rank and file drivers have been the backbone of the dispute so far and must keep up the pressure to make sure there is a challenge both to the anti-union laws and to culture of low pay and long hours on the buses.
For more on the anti‑union laws go to » Stop this attack on right to strike
Planned strike action at Stagecoach Bluebird in the Highlands and the north east of Scotland has been suspended pending a ballot over two new pay offers. Around 500 workers in the Unite union have already voted to reject a 9.75 percent offer over 2 years, with around 85 percent voting for strikes.
If the new offers are rejected workers will strike as planned on Tuesday of next week. Drivers at FirstBus in Aberdeen are also balloting for strikes over pay.