Socialist Worker

Strong strike by London bus drivers

by Sam Ord
Issue No. 2743

Bus drivers on strike in Shepherds Bush, west London

Bus drivers on strike in Shepherd's Bush, west London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Over 2,000 London bus drivers struck on Monday over pay and conditions.

The strikes targeted three subsidiaries of multinational bus operating company RATP—London United, Quality Line and London Sovereign.

The Unite union claims that RATP is using the ­pandemic as “a convenient smokescreen” to try to introduce policies that could see drivers lose up to £2,500 annually.

Bosses have also ­threatened drivers with the possible introduction of zero‑hour contracts.

Manoj, a driver and branch rep in Edgware, north London told Socialist Worker, “We want recognition of the work we have done over the past year.

“We want to be treated with respect and given what we need. A £2.40 pay increase each week isn’t enough, that’s why we’re here.

“I haven’t heard anything from management, so I don’t know if a compromise will be made. Most of us here are on strike, it’s the best support for a strike we’ve ever had.

“We’re going to strike again next Wednesday and the week after.” The ­workers had a lively presence on picket lines outside most depots. They have affected services from Edgware, Harrow, Hounslow, Park Royal, Shepherd’s Bush, Tolworth and Fulwell.

Workers at London United, which operates in south and west London, were due to strike on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Workers at Quality Line, in Epsom, planned to strike on Monday and Tuesday. They are paid £2.50 an hour less than drivers at RATP’s other subsidiaries.

The workers have been offered a pay increase of 0.5 percent—seven pence an hour. Drivers at London Sovereign in north London were on strike on Monday and are set to strike again on Wednesday 3 and 10 March.

Workers have been offered a pay increase of just 0.75 percent, which is well below what has been offered by other operators.

It’s great to see workers fighting back during the pandemic, and London bus workers have real power.

Manchester bus drivers working for Go North West were also preparing for an all-out continuous strike from this Sunday.

The Unite union members are fighting bosses’ plans to fire the entire workforce and rehire it on worse contracts.

The proposed plans would axe 10 percent of jobs—and force drivers to work longer hours for no extra pay.

Workers are also angry at proposed changes to the sick pay policy. This would force them to work while sick or when they should be ­self‑isolating for Covid-19.

Transport workers have been key throughout the pandemic. They must fight to receive the pay and conditions they deserve.

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