The Unite union suspended two 24-hour London bus strikes last week amid claims of foul play by public regulator Transport for London (TfL).
Unite members across London’s 18 bus firms are in dispute over unequal pay.
Some drivers are paid over £3 an hour less for doing the same job as others. The union is demanding sector-wide negotiations with all the bus companies.
Preston Tabois is a union convenor at Arriva London North.
He told Socialist Worker that the union’s decision to suspend the strike at a London-wide union reps meeting last week was “only a postponement”.
“TfL is interfering,” he said. “They are leaning on the companies not to talk to us. And with TfL giving out the contracts, they are going to listen.
“Who are you going to upset—your staff or your paymaster?”
Unite is demanding that TfL board members declare their “neutrality” and confirm they are not blocking talks.
The union believes that TfL managers signed confidentiality agreements before being told the collective bargaining Unite demands is lawful.
TfL and bus bosses claim the opposite is true.
Unite said it suspended the strikes as “an act of goodwill to facilitate talks”. But bus bosses don’t respond to gestures and it was wrong to stop the strikes.
Preston said, “Don’t make the mistake that we’re not fighting anymore. This is to breathe a little bit and come back at them.”
But the suspension threatens to break the momentum the campaign has developed.
Drivers have to push to get the strikes back on and explain to every driver that they will gain from winning this dispute.
This campaign can win equal pay and better conditions across the board. But drivers need to see a strategy to win.