At least 40 bus routes across London were disrupted this morning as garages were blockaded by Unite union activists and supporters.
Garages affected included Brixton, Edgware, Putney, Watford and Willesden. The protests follow last week’s successful London-wide bus workers’ strike.
Unite has announced two further strike dates on 5 July and 24 July. The bus workers are fighting for a £500 bonus to compensate for their increased workload during the Olympics period.
The union conducted 21 separate ballots across London’s privatised bus operators, winning overwhelming votes for action at each one.
But three companies took out last minute high court injunctions to prevent workers at some of their garages from joining last week’s strikes.
Unite organised protests at Arriva, Go Ahead and Metroline garages in retaliation. “The injunction was wrong and the union wanted to make sure these drivers got support,” a Unite organiser and spokesperson told Socialist Worker.
“The drivers are giving their support for these protests. We’ve slowed up routes across the city this morning, but we’re also talking to the drivers. There will be further protests until workers get what they deserve.”
The protests had the support of bus workers and had been sanctioned by a 100 strong reps meeting, the Unite organiser added.
Workers at the targeted garages refused to move buses on health and safety grounds while protesters were blocking the entrances.
One driver at Brixton spoke to Socialist Worker about the anger among bus workers. “I support what’s happening today with all my heart,” the driver said.
“There’s a fare rise every year ripping off the passengers—but the money doesn’t ever come to us. We haven’t had a pay rise in two years.”
Workers closed the shutters at Willesden bus garage. One driver pointed across the road to the huge queues of people building up at the bus stop.
“It’s good what the union is doing,” the driver said. “We need the companies to feel the impact. And we all need to stick together—we need a united strike.”
Thanks to Steve Ellis for reporting from Brixton