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Bus drivers angry after strikes end in let down over pay

Strikes by London bus workers have ended after an offer was made to workers that many felt wasn’t good enough, reports Sam Ord
Issue 2754
Unite bus drivers on strike
Unite bus drivers on strike (Pic: Guy Smallman)

A long-running bus dispute of three subsidiaries of multinational RATP in west and south London has ended following London United drivers’ vote to accept an offer.

Drivers narrowly accepted an offer of a 2.25 percent pay rise over two years and a one off payment of £400 for 2020.

Pay increases from 2019 and 2020 will also be backdated. This works out to be an extra £2.65 for every eight-hour shift.

In addition, members now have a transfer agreement that will ­protect their conditions if they wish to move within the company and between RATP subsidiaries.

The offer was accepted by 696 votes and 639 against. That means a significant number of workers are not happy with what the company offered.


Strong strike by London bus drivers
Strong strike by London bus drivers
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One driver based at Park Royal told Socialist Worker, “I’m very disappointed.

“We all feel let down by our union, after all we have gone through over the last year or so.

“So many drivers have lost their lives, we lost two drivers from our garage at Park Royal.” Socialist Worker learnt of critical moments where the Unite union’s ­half-hearted actions let drivers down.

“The union sold us out when they cancelled the first strike at other RATP branches, London Sovereign and Quality Line,” one driver said.

Originally all three branches struck together but Unite allowed them to be separated.

In March London Sovereign drivers accepted a poor offer of a tiny pay rise of just 0.25 percent and Quality Line drivers accepted a 0.5 percent offer.

The longer strike at London United garages forced a better offer than other RATP subsidiaries but that still wasn’t good enough.

One driver added, “If you work out drivers’ pay rise in the last ten years, we have only managed to get a raise less than £5.


“The union should have allowed us to hit the company hard, going on an all-out strike.

“We have lost so much. On my route, we have much longer duties with some drivers working almost 50 hours a week. It’s unsafe.

“Having seen so many senior drivers leaving the industry, or being forced to leave, I think most drivers have lost all faith in our union.”

Drivers for bus operator Metroline in London have voted overwhelmingly for strikes if bosses don’t scrap the controversial remote sign-on policy.

This dispute involves over 4,000 drivers who are members of the same union. They must learn the lessons of this strike.

More militant actions can achieve the demands that bus drivers deserve.

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