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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 February 2015

Fighting for one London bus pay scale

Ash Grove picketers, London bus strike 13.1.15, photo J Beishon

Ash Grove picketers, London bus strike 13.1.15, photo J Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

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.

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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 4 February 2015:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Get organised and fight back

NHS crisis: Establishment parties can't be trusted

Fracking in trouble, from Lancashire to Lanarkshire!

Death, taxes and energy profits

Hands off our housing benefit!

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

Cuba: Capitalist restoration threat accelerates

Greece: Syriza announces anti-austerity policies

Victory of the Marigold gloves


Socialist Party workplace news

Fighting for one London bus pay rate

Strike called off in face of inadequate pay offer

FBU recall conference: escalate pensions action!

Ferry workers win pay and conditions battle

National Gallery workers walk out against privatisation

Lambeth College strikers return to work

Ongoing battle to protect pay and conditions at college


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Londoners march for Homes

Academies victory: one down, four to go!

Rebuilding the student movement in Leicester

Gateshead fights for working class heritage

Election appeal 2015

Campaigns news in brief


Readers' comments

Why I joined the Socialist Party

At least we got Labour's fish and chips!

Disciplined for political comment


Socialist history

Miners' strike: vibrant array of support groups


 

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