Socialist Worker

Bus strikers fight on as Tories deliver more cash to owners

by Sam Ord
Issue No. 2746

The bus strikes in London

The bus strikes in London (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Strong bus strikes in London and Manchester continue to ­confront the bosses’ attacks on both conditions and pay.

Manchester drivers for operating company Go North West have been taking to picket lines daily since 28 February.

They’re faced with the threat of fire and rehire,despite the fact that the company grabbed profits of £12.3 million.

If implemented the new ­contracts will force drivers to work longer hours for no additional pay. They could lose up to £2,500 a year.

The existing sick pay policy will also be terminated. This will force drivers to work when they’re ill or should be self-isolating. Alongside this, the workforce will be cut by 10 percent.

The Unite union has expressed outrage at Go-Ahead, operator of Go North West, after the ­publication of its half-year results.

The company took £218 million in funding from the ­government to maintain bus services. But this money will be used to pay a dividend to shareholders.

Unite passenger transport officer, Bobby Morton said, “The sheer greed of Go-Ahead has been laid bare.

Shareholders

London bus drivers could stop work over virus fears
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“Go-Ahead is intent on using ­taxpayers’ money to pay dividends to fat cat shareholders at the same time that they are cutting the pay of bus drivers who have kept the service running throughout the pandemic.

“Go-Ahead’s attitude shows all that is wrong about the UK’s privatised bus service.”

Privatised bus services mean disaster for passengers and workers.

Drivers for three subsidies of operating company, RATP in West and South London extended their strike last week to every Wednesday in March.

The dispute, which affects over 2,000 workers, has rallied ­strikers to picket lines to express their frustration. They’re facing attacks on pay while their bosses receive bonuses.

Service

Drivers claim that RATP is using the pandemic as a smokescreen to implement attacks on pay.

The government has introduced a new bus strategy which includes £3 billion in extra funding.

This funding promises to make buses,”more frequent, cheaper, greener, and easier to use.” according to the government website.

The government also promises more regular services on weekends and simpler bus fares.

But Unite, which ­represents 70,000 bus drivers across Britain, says that these measures won’t reverse the years of service cuts and could increase unemployment.

Increase in contactless payments and moves to make buses more environmentally friendly are welcome but the workers have been completely ignored.

Unite is frustrated that the ­strategy fails to introduce minimum standards for bus drivers’ pay and conditions. Morton said, “Fares have increased, services have reduced, private operators cherry-pick the most profitable routes.

“The National Bus Strategy specifically excludes the best solution which would be to allow local authorities to work together to operate their own services.”

Buses should be taken off private firms.


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