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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 September 2010

London bus workers fight cuts

The London Bus Campaign will stage a rally outside City Hall on 15 September to oppose cuts in services, fare increases and reductions in contract prices. The London bus industry, which receives significant public subsidy, will not escape the Con-Dem government's full frontal assault.

A London bus driver

The London bus industry has seen big improvements in recent years. We see fleets of new buses and improved infrastructure. Even bus workers until recently have seen a significant reversal of the massive pay cuts that took place before the privatisation of London buses in 1994-5.

This good news is far from universal. Passengers still face long and unpredictable waits at the bus stop. Many still endure the misery of overcrowded and slow journeys to work. Within the garages, where canteens still exist they are more expensive and inferior and the canteen workers are on poor pay and conditions.

Bus privatisation took place in London a decade after the rest of Britain. Margaret Thatcher's Tory government feared chaos on the capital's public transport system - and what that might do to the wider economy. A higher proportion of Londoners rely on public transport than elsewhere.

Workers' leaders were "persuaded" to accept a one-third pay cut and to smash the militancy of a generation of bus workers. These developments coincided with other changes, like the expansion of one-person operated routes to make the industry profitable to private business.

A massive public subsidy and strict regulation made expansion possible. Big private companies now make considerable profits from this public service.

Transport for London (TfL), the state-owned regulator, not only handed out the routes to firms at attractive and profitable rates. Bus lanes and congestion charging freed up the routes to the great advantage of those operators.

London buses are under threat as never before. Planned cuts in all areas of government spending will severely affect TfL and London buses in particular. Cuts will bring the battles even Thatcher in the 1980s knew she had to avoid.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 9 September 2010:

We can stop the Con-Dem cuts

Health workers' victory

National Shop Stewards Network lobby of the TUC


Socialist Students

We won't be a lost generation!

No to slave labour apprenticeships!


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tony Blair - a journey to Thatcherism

Blair admits he was wrong...

Academies will lead to a two-tier education system

Jobs and services are facing axe in Cornwall


Socialist Party youth and students

Far right not welcome in Brighton

Con-Dems threaten EMA


Socialist Party workplace news

Solid strike on London Underground

London bus workers fight cuts

London: Unite members to strike against NHS privatisation

Corus Redcar - the real story

New Royal Mail boss sharpens her axe


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Fighting for the health service

The callous cutting of NHS Direct


Socialism 2010

Against cuts? Come to Socialism 2010


International socialist news and analysis

Russia: Motorway construction through Khimkinsky forest halted

Global food crisis reveals failure of capitalism


Socialist Party feature

No to Trident nuclear weapons


Socialist Party review

Zola's Germinal: still relevant today


 

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