Socialist Worker

Bus drivers demonstrate at London's City Hall against cuts

Issue No. 2219

Bus workers are joined by cleaners on the demonstration  (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Bus workers are joined by cleaners on the demonstration (Pic: Socialist Worker)

More than 200 bus workers demonstrated outside London's City Hall today over Mayor Boris Johnson's attacks on London's bus service.

The workers' Unite union called the protest, and members of the union from other workplaces joined it. These included cleaners, who led the protest with drums and whistles, and a porters from Billingsgate fish market – who are also under attack.

Alan, a driver for First Bus Group at Leyton depot, told Socialist Worker, 'I'm close to retirement, but I can't stand by and watch as jobs and services for the next generation are destroyed.

'Different bus companies compete for bus routes – the cheaper the tender the more likely they are to get it.

'That means when drivers are transferred our pay drops – £60 or £70 at least. That's a race to the bottom – we think wages should be levelled up not down.

'We haven't had a pay increase in three years and overtime has ground to a standstill.'

A driver from London General's Stockwell depot said his management were looking to cut costs everywhere.

'Our breaks are watched. We don't get any rest days.

'We need investment in the buses not cuts. This service is used by the workers of London, how can we survive without it?'

Steve from First Group in Dagenham agreed: 'We can't afford cars and some can't even afford the underground. The truth is that workers are being made to pay for the financial problems – it isn't the big earners that are suffering.'

Labour London Assembly member Val Shawcross offered support.

'Johnson has already cut our service,' said Steve Hart, Unite regional organiser.

'Now his Eton mate David Cameron is going to come for millions more.'

Service users group Campaign for Better Transport brought solidarity greetings to the protest and Dot Gibson from the National Pensioners Convention spoke about the importance of free public transport for the elderly.

'Freedom passes have literally freed pensioners from loneliness and isolation,' Dot said.

Ken Livingstone and Len McCluskey – candidate in the Unite general secretary elections – also spoke at the rally.

A bus driver took to the stage dressed as Boris Johnson and received a pasting from assembled workers – he smiled and reaffirmed his commitment to drive down workers wages.

The assembled crowd march around city hall before going in to join the mayor's Question Time where one worker said their plan was 'to give Boris a right grilling.'

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Wed 15 Sep 2010, 17:12 BST
Issue No. 2219
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