Workers at the Sovereign bus company in west London have won significant gains.
Drivers at Sovereign have been some of the worst paid in London. But union organisation is changing that. Proposals under a new deal would see pay increased by 2.35 percent.
There are also advances for new drivers. Their basic rate of pay will increase by 7 percent. A further increase from July this year will put new drivers on the same rate as existing drivers. Rates for rest days worked will also be boosted by nearly 12 percent for new drivers.
And sick pay will start after one year of employment instead of two.
The company has also agreed to improvements over a substantial range of issues including weekly bonuses, holiday entitlement, pensions and redundancy terms, profit related bonuses and rates for working over Christmas and new year.
One important unresolved issue remains – the minimum guaranteed hours for drivers.
Drivers are angry that management has strung out the negotiations. As there is no provision for back payments, drivers will lose three months of benefits.
As a result and also because of difficult industrial relations at the company – a leading rep was suspended before Christmas until mid January – there is no union recommendation for workers to accept the deal.
Nevertheless, the real gains won can be built on in the future.
Workers have accepted a pay deal of 1.2 percent this year and half a percent above inflation next year at Oxford Bus.
It is lower than the original offer that workers rejected. But the company has been forced to withdraw plans to put new workers on a lower pay scale for the first two years and plans to reduce the minimum daily working hours.