Socialist Worker

Sovereign bus drivers fight back

Issue No. 2267

Drivers on Sovereign buses in London are preparing to fight back against management attacks.

New rotas are due to be unilaterally imposed at the company’s Harrow depot this Saturday.

They will squeeze drivers’ vital rest and recovery times. This includes meal breaks and shorter breaks between routes—to stretch, go to the toilet and have a drink.

In 2009 Sovereign drivers won a number of concessions over working hours from management through strikes.

But management have been clawing back those gains ever since. The new rotas will mean that the firm’s drivers will work the longest hours with the least rest time across all London buses.

Workers are concerned that leaving tired drivers on the road for longer periods is dangerous. And it will be bad for drivers’ health as they are in a seated position for longer.

It will also mean that it is harder to regulate bus times.

The current system makes it easier to ensure that buses run on time. It gives drivers extra time if necessary to complete or change their route.

Drivers’ Unite union reps were meeting management on Tuesday.

Drivers working at the Sovereign depot in Edgware, London, are preparing to ballot for industrial action.

They rejected a management pay offer by nearly 90 percent.

Bosses offered a 2 percent increase for the first year of the deal, and a 3.2 percent increase in the second.

But the deal will mean worse pay for new starters for two years, and probation will be extended to one year.

“We are rejecting this unfair deal,” Robert Laird, the Unite union rep at Edgware garage, told Socialist Worker.

Robert says that reps are awaiting management’s response, and that the union will move to ballot drivers if the offer is not improved.

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Article information

Tue 30 Aug 2011, 17:11 BST
Issue No. 2267
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