24 August 2008

First London drivers to strike

Strikes are set to sweep across London from Friday 29 August in a dispute that will affect London's bus services, Unite the union announced today. The action will affect the services of First Capital East Buses and First Centrewest Buses.

2,500 bus workers will begin action this Friday for 24 hours followed by a 48 hour strike beginning Friday 12 September. The bus workers have resoundingly rejected a pay offer of 3.5% on the basic rate of pay.

Strike ballots are now taking place in most other London bus companies in disputes over pay. The union submitted a London wide claim to all bus operators in March of this year to challenge the current system whereby drivers (and other grades) performing identical jobs within the TfL
regulated industry, receive hugely varying pay and conditions. In many cases the pay disparity for drivers working for different operators can be as much as £6000 a year.

George Dodo-Williams, Unite regional industrial organiser, said: "London bus workers have consistently delivered huge increases in efficiency and performance since the return of local government to London. Even Mayor Boris Johnson acknowledges that London has the world's finest bus drivers. Yet these workers are being forced to take action to stake their claim for a
share of the profits generated by their hard work. They are determined to achieve a fair settlement."

TfL usually prefer to stay clear of disputes like this, with a press release usually along the lines that bus services in London, whilst still regulated, were privatised some years ago and that it is the responsibility of the respective bus company to ensure a speedy resolution to the dispute.