Unite union members at East London Bus Group’s (ELBG) garage in Upton Park have voted by 182 to six in an indicative ballot to say they would strike if drivers on routes 300 and 325 are transferred to other companies.
ELBG recently lost the contracts to operate the two routes to operators Go-Ahead and Arriva North.
Bosses now want to transfer more than 60 drivers with the routes, which are due to transfer in March.
One Upton Park driver told Socialist Worker, “We voted to say all the drivers should stay here. They are employed by ELBG, they are part of this company, and we will defend them.”
The dispute shows the damaging logic of Transport for London’s tendering system.
Companies try to hold down costs to maximise profit and win lucrative contracts for bus routes—while bus workers suffer worsening pay and conditions and job insecurity.
The Upton Park drivers are right to challenge the destructive market logic of the tendering system—and to stand up for their colleagues.
Unite is currently running a London-wide campaign for central pay bargaining.
Strikes that challenge specific transfers can help take that campaign forward.
There are signs that the pay dispute at ELBG is becoming bogged down in endless talks.
More than 2,000 drivers struck for three days against a pay freeze before Christmas.
The workers then voted by a huge majority to reject a new offer.
But they are still waiting to hear about future strike dates.
The union needs to get the action back up and running or it risks losing the momentum and spirit that clearly still exists among drivers.