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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 June 2012

Support the London bus strike

A London bus worker
East London bus workers strike in November 2009, photo Pete Mason

East London bus workers strike in November 2009, photo Pete Mason   (Click to enlarge)

The regional secretary of Unite the union, Peter Kavanagh, has told reps from London bus garages that, after a 94% vote for action, an official 24-hour strike would start across the capital from 3am on Friday 22 June.

This first London-wide strike for a generation was called after the capital's private bus companies refused to pay a bonus for bus workers who will be coping with an extra 900,000 passengers during the Olympics and Paralympics. Transport for London (TfL), who supposedly control the whole system, are refusing to intervene. If necessary a second strike could be called for the Olympic Games' opening day, 27 July.

Almost all the bus workers I spoke to wanted to see this action through. My garage had Unite posters on the walls informing members of the strike and my rep told me that ten drivers had joined the union on that day alone. As we spoke, a driver came up and asked what could he do about the strike, but wasn't in Unite. We said "Join!" and that was recruit number eleven.

A driver from Catford said only a few drivers would come into work and the mood was supportive. But drivers weren't as worried about the £500 bonus as to get back for the way management was treating them. They never even offered a bonus which almost everyone else in passenger transport is getting. The driver also thought a strike now would help when the main pay negotiations come round.

Another rep said the union would call for another strike after the Olympics as the bosses' response to the union's annual pay claim was a pay freeze! One driver who left Unite because it wasn't doing anything for workers at her garage definitely wouldn't cross a picket line.

A roadside controller said he'd be expected to drive a bus on strike day along with other management. "But the first abuse I get, I'll be chucking all my passengers off and calling in to say I'm bringing my bus back to the depot on health and safety grounds."

When East London buses had a strike a couple of years ago, management had to call in the few buses on the road precisely because they were getting dangerously overcrowded and drivers/scabs/managers were getting threats.

The battle is now on. Leon Daniels, a TfL boss, accused bus workers of being 'reprehensible' for strking. Daniels earns £234,906 a year and is in line for a bonus of £80,000 tied to the Olympics!

The last major all-London strike was in 1982, in solidarity with nurses. If we win this struggle after years of inactivity, it will loosen management's grip and give new confidence not just to bus workers but to all workers.

Olympic bonus awards have already been agreed for the following workers:

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In The Socialist 20 June 2012:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Fight their profit system

2012 earth summit

British economy: "black cloud overhead"

Leveson inquiry - The 1%: "definitely in this together"

Flight of the rats

The child poverty mirage

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

Greece election - majority vote against austerity

Egypt's military instigates a 'soft coup'

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Join in the Austerity Games!

Gloucestershire: Countywide protests to stop NHS sell-off

Bus bosses can't stop the Socialist!

Support the final sprint to the fighting fund quarter finish line

Socialist Party workplace news

Striking at Fords to defend pensions

Five hundred food processing workers strike in Leicester

Packed Coryton refinery meeting backs action to win

Support the London bus strike

UCU: Time to fight on pay and pensions

Improved offer in Metro workers' pay fight

Workplace news in brief

Trade union conferences

GMB delegates question link to Labour

Unite needs strategy to step up fight against austerity

Unison conference: members show anger at pensions 'offer'

Fighting teachers' association network launched

Socialist Party review

Secret History of the Streets, Deptford High Street


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