Drivers at three London bus companies struck across 22-24 February, with further strikes planned across on 3, 5, and 6 March.
The strikes, organised by the Unite union, involve drivers at London United, Quality Line, and London Sovereign. All three are owned by French parent company RATP. London Sovereign drivers will strike on 3 March, London United drivers on 5 and 6 March, and Quality Line drivers on 5 March. The dispute involves almost 2,000 drivers in total.
At London United, RATP wants to impose new contracts, which would reduce wages by £2,500 for some drivers. The new contracts would also impose a “zero-hours” model for some drivers, who would only be paid for the hours spent physically driving a bus.
Quality Line drivers earn £2.50/hour less than drivers at other RATP-owned companies, and have been offered a pay rise of just 0.5%, equivalent to 7p/hour. London Sovereign drivers have been offered a 0.75% pay increase.
A Unite statement said: “RATP is guilty of using the cover of the pandemic to force through attacks on terms and conditions and table pitiful pay offers. RATP has a long history of attacking one group of workers at a time, attempting to slash pay and conditions, before moving onto the next group. Our members are drawing a line in the sand with this dispute.”
The union says it will also shortly begin balloting its 4,000 members in the Metroline bus company, over proposals to introduce a remote signing-on system. Unite says there is “no benefit to passengers” from the new system, “and in fact, remote sign on could cause disruption to services. There are also major safety implications, as there are no checks to ensure a driver is fit for work. Furthermore, forcing the driver to travel to a bus stop to begin driving will result in them being at greater risk of exposure to Covid.” The union estimates the new system could lead to a 7% pay cut for drivers.
Meanwhile, bus drivers employed by Go North West, also in Unite, struck on Sunday 28 February, in a dispute over the company’s attempt to impose new contracts via “fire and rehire”.
And Go South Coast/Bluestar bus driver, RMT rep, and Southampton Trades Council secretary Declan Clune has been sacked after raising health and safety concerns. A fund has been set up to support the campaign for his reinstatement here.