London United bus drivers in west and south London struck on Wednesday over attacks on pay.
Drivers in the Unite union face pay cuts of up to £2,500 a year, which will reduce pay to 2015 levels.
Management at the RATP operating company is also threatening to introduce zero hour contracts.
David, a driver, at Park Royal told Socialist Worker, “This pay cut comes at a time when they should be rewarding us.
Another worker added, “I just don't understand how a company that profited £15 million can turn around and offer us nothing.
“Transport for London also gave London United extra money to deal with the pandemic. But the drivers haven't seen any of it.”
Alongside this, RATP is pushing drivers to work longer hours for no extra pay.
“Management doesn't tell us that our hours will go up, they just do it,'' a picket said. “I worked a 12-hour shift yesterday and over 11 hours a couple of days before.”
Unite claims that RATP is using the coronavirus pandemic to attack workers’ rights.
Drivers in Hounslow, west London, told Socialist Worker, “Unemployment is going up and agency work is normal.
“We have Heathrow down the road sacking staff, and RATP thinks it can get new drivers, just like that.
“It’s been recruiting agency workers for ages, now they want all of us on those terms and conditions. We have to strike, we’re being forced to.”
London United drivers were due to be joined on the picket lines by two other RATP subsidiaries, Quality Line and London Sovereign. They were battling a paltry pay offer of just 0.5 percent at Quality Line and 0.75 percent at London Sovereign.
But the action was postponed after a new offer.
Unite regional officer Michelle Braveboy said, “Following intensive negotiations, RATP made improved offers. Members will ballot on those offers.”
Bus drivers have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic. Now their strikes are hitting back at bosses who are trying to force through attacks.
Strikes must continue and escalate to win over pay and conditions. But there also needs to be more pressure to take transport back into democratic public ownership.