Buses normally leave Tower Transit’s Westbourne Park garage in west London every six minutes—but on Tuesday very little moved.
It was the same at the Atlas Road depot in west London and the Lea Interchange depot in east London.
Over 1,000 Unite union members struck for 24 hours.
They are fighting against the imposition of roster changes “and a failure by an increasingly hard line management to commit to constructive industrial relations”.
There are very few scabs in this dispute. Striker Rani said claims that buses are getting out on the road are hollow.
“Managers take buses out and leave them at bus stands as a propaganda trick,” he said.
“They are not in service or if they can get scabs to drive them, they don’t run the full route.”
London’s busiest bus route, the number 25, had no buses running at the start of the morning rush. Some 87.5 percent of all Tower Transit’s routes had none either.
The workers have many issues with boss Neil Smith, especially his attitude towards their union reps.
After his abusive behaviour during their strike two weeks ago, many want a personal apology. “He came to the picket and was aggressive and intimidating,” said Rani.
Smith called drivers “bastards” and a Unite rep “full of shit”.
Smith said it was a problem that the bus workers are an “immigrant workforce that you have to train”. But one striker quipped, “Look at your uneducated immigrants now—we’ve stopped the buses.”
Talks with the company have produced “nothing”, one rep said. Workers are pressing ahead with another walkout on Monday.
Bus workers in Weymouth began a six-day strike on Tuesday in their long running battle against poverty pay. It is 12 weeks since the strikes began.
Their walkout came as First Group bosses pumped hundreds of thousands of pounds into a scabbing operation.
Unite union branch secretary Simon told Socialist Worker, “We estimate that it would cost them roughly £48,000 to pay us but we think they’ve spent about £500,000 to keep us out.
“They’re refusing to budge.”
The workers are paid £8.80 an hour—70p less than First Group workers in Yeovil and nearly £2 less than drivers at rival firms in Bournemouth.
But solidarity has kept up the strikers’ spirits and strengthened their resolve.
A benefit gig organised by the local Labour left Momentum group raised £600 for the strikers recently. “We’ve had donations from all over,” said Simon.
“We want to thank everyone who has given us solidarity.”
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