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Bus workers


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From: The Socialist issue 843, 11 February 2015: Take the wealth off the super-rich!

Search site for keywords: Bus workers - Pay - London - Strike - Drivers - Buses - Transport

London bus strikes:

It's the same job - We want the same pay

Bus drivers at the Clapton garage picket on 5 February 2015, photo by Paul Mattsson

Bus drivers at the Clapton garage picket on 5 February 2015, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Update [11.02.15]: The strikes planned for 13 and 16 February have been postponed as Unite calls upon the employers to enter negotiations. More soon.

London bus workers are engaged in an historic battle to get one rate for the job - the best - across all London garages, with the third and fourth strike days planned for 13 and 16 February.

The aim of the campaign is to improve wages and conditions for all London bus workers. The workers' determination to win the current strike is there for all to see.

They are angry that drivers are getting different wages for driving down the same stretch of road. Not only are there different rates between companies but also in the same companies.

In the face of attempted management intimidation and driving sleet, picket lines of 40-50 were still common across London on the second strike day on 5 February. Over two thirds of buses were not running.

Despite the bus companies' and Transport for London (TfL) propaganda saying the strike is waning, several garages reported more drivers taking strike action.

If management are so confident that the strike is waning, why did they get police down to the picket lines and have photographers taking pictures of pickets? It has also been rumoured that drivers on probation were threatened with the sack if they went on strike.

Despite this intimidation the vast majority of drivers are standing firm. Pickets reported that, at Putney, a good number of buses parked outside the garage could not be used as there were not enough drivers to drive them.

Response

As management are increasing their response to this strike the opportunity is there for bus workers to do the same.

There is at least one example of where pickets stopped buses leaving a garage for a while and also blocked off the main street outside the garage. This could be repeated across other garages.

Unite, the bus workers' union, could also call protests at TfL, even linking up with other transport unions. They could also organise protests at the different bus companies. It is clear that public opinion is behind the bus drivers, with two-thirds of bus passengers backing the strikes.

Unite has given 1.5 million to Labour's election campaign. Yet we've seen little support for bus workers in return. But where are Labour MPs and councillors on the picket lines?

Socialist Party members and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) supporters have been prominent on many of the picket lines and have received a good response from bus workers. As well as backing the strikes, we argue that we need to go a lot further by renationalising London's buses to put public transport under democratic public control.

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