Socialist Worker

Dial-a-strike: Transport for London workers fight for living wage

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2690

Strikers on the picket line

Strikers on the picket line (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Chants of “Shame” rang out against Transport for London (TfL) bosses at the headquarters in Southwark, south London, as hundreds of workers struck on Thursday.

It marked the first of four walkouts by Unite union members against a 1 percent pay offer to workers on Dial-a-Ride buses other TfL workers. They include revenue protection officers, road enforcement officers, compliance officers and others.

One Unite union member, Emily, said that bosses “take the piss with workers”. “They try and box us into the corner all the time,” she told Socialist Worker.

Over 50 workers rallied outside TfL’s Palestra House and pickets shutdown Dial-a-Ride depots across the capital. Dave, one of the Unite members at the rally, told Socialist Worker, “There’s over 400 staff and we’re fed up with TfL.

“The directors keep paying themselves bonuses and pay rises, but have no respect for trade unions or staff.”

“There is a bullying culture,” he added.

“Every year there is a survey that shows it, every year they say they’ll do something about it and then don’t.”

Transport

Gareth Powell, TfL managing director of surface transport, was paid £305,649 last year—a 10 percent increase on his previous year’s salary. On top of that he grabbed a bonus of £50,648 in performance related payments.

Another highly-paid director, Siwan Hayward, was awarded an OBE in the queen’s birthday honours. Dave said it was another slap in the face for the workforce because “they don’t care about us”.

“She’s been given an OBE,” he said. “Does she deserve it? Of course not.”

The Dial-a-Ride and other TfL strikers plan to walk out again on Friday 28 February. They will be joined by Unite members on the Woolwich Ferry who are fighting for the London Living Wage of £10.75 an hour.

Subcontractor Briggs Marine Ltd runs the Thames River crossing in south east London on a contract to TfL.

There a strong possibility that workers on other parts of TfL’s surface operations could be balloted and join future strike days on 27 March and 24 April. Coordinating industrial action across TfL can ramp up pressure on the bosses.

As Sharon said, “If enough of London went on strike, they would really feel the impact.

“Just look how many people use the buses and underground—that’s when they would really feel it.”

Every trade unionist should build support for the TfL workers’ fight and prepare to join them on the picket lines.

Tweet messages of support to @UniteLondonEast Workers names have been changed

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