Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/842/20050
Fighting for one London bus pay scale
As we go to press, London bus drivers are due to ramp up strike action with three days of action on 5, 13 and 16 February demanding sector wide negotiation (SWN). These days follow their first successful walkout on 13 January.
A London bus driver told the Socialist why they are fighting for SWN.
SWN will give us the chance to get all London bus companies around one table to thrash out one pay scale and one set of terms and conditions for all London's bus drivers.
Since privatisation, operating companies win route contracts by setting the lowest bid. There are other factors involved but usually the lowest bid wins. Resources like buses, fuel, buildings, infrastructure and rents all have set costs. So the operating companies cut pay in order to make a profit.
We have all seen attacks on our pay, terms and conditions with below inflation pay rises and an increase in the working day. Bus drivers are £2,000 a year worse off than seven years ago.
Arriva recently introduced a £9.30 starter rate which lasts for eight years before moving on to a higher grade. By clipping the top rates and introducing lower top rates they effectively drive down our wage.
SWN would stop this race to the bottom by firstly setting a minimum acceptable wage, in effect bringing up the pay of the newer drivers close to, or the same as, the higher earners.
Better for all
Then we can get a common set of terms and conditions based on the best that are available. Only then will we be able to negotiate a better rate for all London bus drivers. We have to bring the bottom earners up to stop the higher earners going down.
Many people ask: 'How much are we going for?' It's impossible to say because, by the time all this is in place, wage deals will be ongoing. But it will be better than where we are now.
In training we are told that we are professionals, have a long history and a noble profession. So why are we not treated with respect? Transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy says bus drivers are paid different levels dependent upon their skill level. But if I change employer my skill level disappears out of the window and I go to bottom rate again!
It is time to make a stand, say enough is enough, and fight for a better future by getting one wage and one set of terms and conditions for us all.
In The Socialist 4 February 2015:
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