Socialist Worker

Bus workers fight for decent pay and against long hours

by Raphie de Santos
Issue No. 1961

LOTHIAN REGION bus workers were set to strike for two days this weekend following their first strike earlier this month.

After nearly four months of negotiations bus drivers finally lost patience with the council, which is the employer.

On Monday 18 July, they held a 24-hour strike which T&G union branch chair Peter Williamson said had 100 percent support across the region.

This was followed by a ban on overtime for the duration of the dispute, which means that the council will have to introduce a Saturday service during the normal Monday to Friday working week.

Every year around 20 percent of drivers leave because pay is so poor that the only way to make a living is to work masses of overtime.

A current standard working week of 39 hours brings a salary of £15,800.

However, the dispute is really about the council trying to impose new conditions on the entire workforce.

The council has offered a 5 percent wage increase with strings attached.

The T&G wants just over 6.1 percent with no strings attached. The strings that the council have attached are to do with the introduction of more single decker buses.

Currently existing double decker drivers are allowed to work a maximum of 4.5 hours without a break.

A newly recruited single decker bus driver can work a maximum of 5.5 hours without a break.

They want to impose the conditions for single decker drivers on all the region’s bus drivers for both existing double decker and new single decker drivers.

So instead of needing five drivers to cover one bus shift, the region will only need to have two or three.

Buses round up


Two hundred and thirty drivers at First Cymru buses’ Swansea depot struck for eight hours on Saturday of last week over pay.

The drivers are campaigning for a pay increase to £6.75 an hour. The company is offering a 3 percent rise to £6.50.

Although the dispute is over pay, the drivers—in the T&G union—also have concerns over conditions. Management has said that if wages are increased, pension contributions won’t be increased to match.

Colin Calder

Devon and Cornwall

In Devon and Cornwall 650 bus drivers in the RMT union are in dispute with First buses over pay.

The drivers want a pay rise of 4.2 percent with the company offering 3.2 percent. The drivers took their second day of action on Thursday of last week with a solid 24 hour strike.

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Article information

Sat 30 Jul 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1961
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