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Bus workers ballot for strikes in Oldham and London

Two ballots over pay and conditions
Issue 2782
A large picket line of bus workers in Manchester

Workers at First Manchester on a previous strike (Picture: Lewis Nielsen)

Bus workers employed by First Manchester are preparing to ballot over pay and conditions. The drivers are also voting over shift patterns and rotas.

Workers agreed to emergency procedures that were introduced at the start of the pandemic. But they now want a return to previous arrangements as passenger numbers increase.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Our members at First Manchester are not going to accept low pay and poor conditions any longer.”

The Unite union is balloting 350 members for strikes that could begin in early January. The ballot is set to end on Thursday 23 December.

First Manchester operates from a depot in Oldham but strikes will affect services stretching beyond Greater Manchester.

The hourly pay for a highly skilled bus driver is just £12.40 an hour. Workers must refuse any pay offers below inflation and be prepared to fight for a significant rise.

Attack on shifts in ­London

Over 950 bus drivers at Abellio in south and west London are being balloted for industrial action in a dispute over shifts.

The company’s scheduling agreement establishes a driver’s shift pattern for a year. Under the existing agreement the Unite union elects scheduling reps who are fully consulted.

Now Abellio has brought its scheduling system in-house and hasn’t consulted reps on changes taking place.

Drivers now face life‑changing alterations to schedules.

One worker for example, has worked mornings for a decade. They’ll now work permanent late duties and nights.

The dispute affects both the company’s subsidiaries Abellio London Ltd and Abellio West London Ltd. Action could hit six depots—Battersea, Beddington, Hayes, Southall, Twickenham and Walworth.

Unite regional officer Guy Langston said, “Workers are having their lives turned upside down and are being given shift patterns which will simply make them ill.”

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