The Unite union held a local pay meeting for bus workers in north east London last week.
The meeting was part of a campaign to win a decent London-wide pay rise across all bus companies, including a drivers’ rate of £30,000 based on a 38-hour week.
Unite national executive member John Murphy pointed out that bus workers’ pay and conditions have declined since privatisation and deregulation in the late 1980s.
He assured the meeting that the union is now serious about resistance – including strikes across the capital if necessary.
He pointed out that tube workers have long overtaken bus workers’ pay by using their collective strength.
But bus workers have just as much power if they stand together, he told the meeting. “Without us London stops,” he said.
Steve Holman from Unite pointed out that while the employers operated as a cartel through the Bus Operators Forum, bus workers’ lack of London-wide organisation had allowed the bosses to get away with attacks for too long.
Speakers from the floor welcomed the union’s commitment to a serious pay campaign, but had many questions about how it will be organised, with communication with members a particular concern.
The meeting ended on a positive note. One worker warned the employers, “Millions and millions will be lost in the City if we strike – the London bus worker is taking no more of your shit.”
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There was a sense of solidarity and hope