A strike ballot of 20,000 London bus drivers was set to finish on Thursday of this week.
The Unite union is demanding that London’s 18 bus companies end the pay disparity between firms, where some drivers can earn over £2 an hour difference.
But Mustafa, a Unite rep at Putney garage in south west London, said it’s not just about pay. “This is about demanding respect for drivers, and to cut out harassment and bullying from management,” he told Socialist Worker.
Drivers say the pressure to keep to unreasonable time schedules is all too common, while pay is driven down and other conditions are attacked.
“Drivers are stressed out,” said Des, a Unite rep at Go Ahead. “Controllers are constantly on people’s backs asking ‘Where are you?’ and saying we can’t be late.
“We play a vital role in London transport but it feels like we’re the bottom of the pile—ever since privatisation it’s been like that.”
Des thinks the union needs to use its power. “Give us the tools to lead,” he said. “A one-day strike is just the start. I will recruit lots of members if drivers see there is a strike and something is happening.”
Craig, a Unite convenor in north London, told Socialist Worker, “We all have to go out and we need to plan a series of strikes. Going for one day a week would help us break the companies.”
He added, “We don’t need to wait for the officials to tell us what to do, they are there to listen and act on what we want.”
Des agreed. “People need to understand the members are the union and they can push it to act,” he said.
London’s bus bosses could be in for a bumpy ride in 2015.
Some workers names have been changed
Tube workers in the RMT union on London’s Waterloo and City line were set to strike for 48 hours from 11pm on Sunday 21 December.
The service control staff are in dispute over regrading. They argue bosses are not recognising the full extent of their job role.
Workers at the Settle and Carlisle Railway Development Company struck last Saturday against compulsory redundancy.
They provide catering on Northern Rail services between Carlisle and Settle.
The RMT union is demanding the reinstatement of a worker.