London bus workers plan more strikes

Submitted by martin on 16 March, 2021 - 4:29 Author: Ollie Moore
RATP London

Bus drivers in London struck again on 5-6 March, with further strikes planned on 10, 17, 24, and 31 March.

Over 2,000 drivers at three bus companies – London United, London Sovereign, and Quality Line – are involved in the strikes. All three companies are subsidiaries of the French company RATP. Drivers will strike again on 17, 24, and 31 March.

All three disputes centre around pay. Quality Line drivers are among the lowest paid drivers in London, earning £2.50 per hour less than drivers at other RATP subsidiaries. They have been offered an increase of 7p per hour. London Sovereign drivers are striking to win an improved pay offer, after management offered an increase of just 0.75%. And London United drivers' strikes aims to resist the imposition of new terms, which will see hours increased and pay cut.

Unite is also balloting is members working for Metroline, one of London's largest bus companies, employing over 4,000 drivers – around 16% of all London bus drivers, for industrial action to stop the imposition of a remote booking on system. A Unite statement said: “Remote sign on means drivers do not report to a depot, but meet their bus at an alternative location such as a bus stop. It forces drivers to start work away from the depot, reducing costs and boosting the company's profits. The remote sign-on policy raises concerns over lack of toilets and canteens; increased driving hours; and waiting for the bus in inclement weather.” The Metroline ballot closes on 9 April.

In Manchester, 400 drivers at Go North West continue strikes against new contracts which their employer plans to impose via “fire and rehire”. The contracts would cut 10% of the workforce and could lead to pay cuts of £2,500 for some drivers.

The Unite union has also advised bus driver members in London that they should continue to enforce capacity restrictions (11, 14, or 30 passengers, depending on the size of the bus) once schools return on 8 March. When schools resumed in September, drivers were told by bus companies that capacity restrictions did not apply when collecting school children.

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