Some 20,000 London bus drivers are balloting for strikes to demand equal pay and collective bargaining across the capital’s 18 bus companies.
Drivers’ pay can vary by more than £2 an hour. Last month Unite members delivered a huge 96 percent vote for action in a consultative ballot. The mood to take the companies on is there.
“Bus workers should vote yes in the ballot,” north west London Unite union branch secretary Peter told Socialist Worker.
“We do exactly the same job with the same responsibilities so we should all be paid the same.”
Peter said the competition for routes means companies “undercut one another and workers’ wages end up getting attacked”.
He said, “We deserve to have equal pay and not be competing against each another.”
The union is only balloting bus drivers. Many don’t understand why other workers, such as mechanics and engineers, are being left out.
“I think they should be part of this ballot too,” Peter said. “They are the ones maintaining the buses to be out on the roads.”
Involving all bus workers can only strengthen the action. The strikes that won a £500 Olympic bonus in 2012 prove this, even though many bus workers believed even more could have been won.
This is not the first time London bus workers have geared up to fight for one rate for the job across London. Between 2007-2009 hundreds joined picket lines as thousands of bus workers struck.
Then and in 2012 bosses went to the courts to use technicalities to stop strikes.
Peter said, “If they try it on again we need to stand our ground. We don’t want some of us on strike and some of us not. We are all up for this fight.”
The ballot ends on 18 December.