London drivers back New Year strike action

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Of around 7,000 drivers to vote, 85% back industrial action over pay inequality

London’s bus drivers have overwhelmingly backed industrial action in a dispute over pay disparities between 18 of the capital’s bus operators, Unite announced on Thursday (December 18).

The vote in favour, averaging 85% across the 18 companies, raises the prospect of a London wide bus strike in the new year

The union claims that there are pay gaps of over £3 an hour for new starters, with pay varying from £9.30 to £12.34 an hour depending on the company.

As well as strike action, members also backed action short of a strike by 89%.

Unite represents over 27,000 bus workers working for 18 bus operators who serve Greater London, just over 7,000 of which voted on the issue. These operators are: Arriva North, Arriva South, Selkent, London General, Metroline, Metroline West, Metrobus, CT Plus, London United, Abellio South, Abellio West, London Sovereign, Stagecoach, Blue Triangle, Northumberland Park, Tower Transit, Docklands and London Central.

Wayne King, London Regional Officer for Unite said: “This overwhelming vote in favour of strike action across London’s buses should be a wake-up call to the capital’s bus operators who continue to defend pay inequality.

“Bus workers who keep our capital running 24 hours a day, seven days a week have had enough of the growing pay disparities and the growing resentment it breeds across the industry.

“Rather than one set of negotiations covering all of London’s bus drivers we have 18. It is simply not fair to have drivers doing the same work, driving the same routes at the same time of day, but being paid different rates.

“London’s bus operators need to enter into meaningful talks aimed at ending pay inequality and establishing a collective forum that covers bus workers’ pay terms and conditions in London. Otherwise their continued refusal risks the disruption of a London wide bus strike in the new year.”

Mike Weston, TfL’s Director of Buses, said: “Bus drivers are employed by private companies and their pay and conditions are a matter for those companies and the union to discuss, as it has been for 20 years. We would urge the union not to subject bus passengers to unnecessary disruption, especially in view of the low number of bus drivers who voted in favour of strike action.”