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Transport round up: 20,000 London bus workers vote on fight against fatigue

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Issue 2690
A bus drivers strike in London in 2016
A bus drivers’ strike in London in 2016 (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Bus drivers in London are getting ready to vote for militant action over widespread worker fatigue.

In a move that could see 20,000 bus drivers strike in the future, the Unite union planned to hold a consultative ballot for strikes on Friday this week.

Workers are fighting for a raft of measures that will reduce exhaustion of London bus drivers and improve passenger safety.

A recent study showed that 17 percent of London bus drivers had fallen asleep at the wheel at least once in the past year.

Their union has seven demands. It’s fighting for safer scheduling, full rest breaks, realistic running times, workers finishing on time, proper training, improved stand time and for drivers to be treated with respect.

Unite regional officer John Murphy said, “London bus drivers have had enough. They are permanently fatigued and at risk of being a danger to other road users, bus passengers and themselves.

Unite is urging people to vote for action because of the bosses’ failure to implement any effective measures over many years.

“It’s time to act,” said the union.

‘Treat us all with respect’

Workers employed by catering firm Rail Gourmet staged a 48-hour strike on Thursday and Friday of last week.

The RMT union members supply catering and refreshments on Great Western Railway services operating from Paddington, west London.

They are fighting for a proper night shift allowance, increased workloads, and an end to defective equipment and management bullying.

“We demand to be treated with respect at work”, they said.

Talks between the RMT and the have not resolved any of the issues at the heart of the dispute.

Fight to end outsourcing

RMT union activists gathered outside parliament on Wednesday last week to demand that tube cleaners are brought back in house with decent wages and conditions .

Joined by a host of Labour MPs, the union is calling for an end to “putting profit before passengers” and “widespread discrimination against cleaning workers”.

The 2,000 workers are outsourced to multinational ABM and report horrific working conditions.

Some 68 percent of cleaners surveyed said that they “regularly struggle to make ends meet”. And 91 percent said they would like to be brought in-house.

Offshore bosses go on the attack

Offshore oil workers’ unions have slammed bosses’ move to tear up an industry wide agreement and undermine workers’ rights.

Unions said bosses will terminate the Offshore Contractors Partnership Agreement (OCPA) on 20 June 2020.

Unite, GMB and the RMT said it would “have the effect of derecognising the trade unions”. A joint statement said, “The trade unions want to avoid the potential for a race to the bottom on terms and conditions and the inevitable impact that would have on health and safety.

“We await the response of industry.”

Unions should organise a ballot for strikes.

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