Socialist Worker

Build London bus workers’ pay campaign

by Esme Choonara
Issue No. 2134

Management at Sovereign bus company in north-west London have attempted to hit back at workers following a successful strike there last week.

After a solid 24 hour strike by around 300 drivers in the Unite union, bosses have increased efforts to bypass the union and persuade individual drivers to sign up to the deal.

Union members say the deal works out at less than 4 percent on basic pay.

The company sent a letter to every driver in advance of the strike asking them to sign up to the offer, despite the union having collectively rejected the deal.

In the run-up to the strike only a handful signed the letter, but management pressure means a few more – especially newer drivers – signed in the days following the action.

At an emotionally charged union meeting at Harrow garage following the strike some drivers said that they didn’t understand what they were signing and have written to management to withdraw their signatures.

There is now an argument about when to call further action.

Some union officials are saying the workers should wait and strike alongside other London bus workers.


Abdul Omer, the Unite rep at Harrow, disagrees. He told Socialist Worker, “We must call more strike days soon otherwise there is a danger that we lose momentum.

“The management is undermining the union – this is a serious attack and we can not let them beat us.”

Unite officials are set to meet with union members at the Edgware garage – where more drivers have signed the management letter – on Friday of this week to discuss taking the union’s campaign forward.

As Socialist Worker went to press Unite officials were meeting to discuss a ballot of bus workers at several other London companies as part of the union campaign for higher and equal pay across the city.

The campaign launched last summer has brought hundreds more drivers into the union and seen three days of successful strike action before the dispute was derailed by bosses’ threats of legal action.

Despite immense pressure on drivers to settle their pay claims in the run up to Christmas, most have continued to reject their companies pay offers and are impatient to strike.

Activists will need to campaign for a big Yes vote for strike action to show bosses that the dispute is still strong.

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Article information

Tue 13 Jan 2009, 18:37 GMT
Issue No. 2134
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