Socialist Worker

Lothian bus workers strikes stall after change of gear

by John White
Issue No. 1963

T&G union leaders called off a planned indefinite strike by Lothian Region bus drivers that was due to begin this week.

Drivers had already staged a one-day strike followed by a weekend-long strike in an effort to put pressure on employers Lothian Region Transport (LRT) in a dispute over pay and working conditions.

There was no doubting the mood to fight.

On Wednesday of last week 300 drivers staged an unofficial wildcat strike after management sent letters to the drivers’ homes, without the knowledge of the union.

The letters asked drivers if they were happy with the pay rise on offer—an offer which the union had already turned down.

The drivers immediately discharged their passengers and drove their buses back to the depots, bringing transport services in Edinburgh to a virtual standstill for three hours.

The drivers returned to work after the local union leader advised them that their action was illegal.

After talks between union officials and management the next day, on Thursday of last week, it was announced that the union will recommend to members that they accept the company’s offer of a two-year deal.

It would see a rise to £9 an hour by December, and an increase to £9.50 an hour within two years.

In the meantime, there will be a 30p an hour increase backdated to March.

The salary of an LRT driver, without overtime, is just over £15,000 a year.

Neil Renilson, LRT’s chief executive, is believed to be on a salary of around £150,000.  

After the deal was announced, some drivers were angry that they will only be receiving a 30p an hour pay rise this year. They were asking for a 52p an hour rise.  

One driver told Socialist Worker, “I didn’t lose three days pay for 30p an hour. Most of the guys were in favour of an all-out strike, and now a lot of us are angry with the union for backing down.”

This week’s strike has been called off pending a drivers’ ballot on the company’s offer. Some drivers are arguing for rejection.

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Sat 13 Aug 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1963
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