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20,000 London bus workers go on strike – with the public on their side

B7Omg--CIAAcsRlPicket lines were in place across London’s 70 bus garages today as over 20,000 bus workers working for 18 bus operators take part in a 24 hour strike to end unfair pay disparities across the capital’s bus network. With very solid support for the strike the bus workers’ union Unite urged TfL and the mayor of London to “bang the bus operators’ heads together” to get them to sit down collectively with the union to resolve the dispute.

There are over 80 different pay rates covering London’s bus drivers, doing the same job, even driving the same route but for different rates of pay. In contrast to tube drivers, there isn’t one collective pay deal for bus drivers in the capital, whose pay is negotiated on a company by company basis leading to pay inequality and disparities.  Unite says a refusal by the operators to address pay inequality has led to pay gaps of over £3 an hour for new starters opening up, with pay varying from £9.30 to £12.34 an hour depending on the company.

Two thirds of London bus passengers think the capital’s bus drivers should be paid the same according to an independent survey. The survey of 1,645 passengers by Mass1 for Unite, gives public backing to the bus workers’ campaign to end unfair pay disparities and secure one agreement for pay and conditions across London’s 18 bus operators. Nor is there any doubt that comanies could afford to equalise pay. An analysis of the latest accounts for the capital’s bus operators shows the companies making combined profits of £171.7 million, with directors’ pay totalling at least £7.24 million a year.

Commenting on today’s disruption, Unite regional officer Wayne King said:

TfL and the mayor need to take a look at the streets of London today and bang the bus operators’ heads together to end the pay inequality on London’s buses. Today’s strike action has been solidly supported and illustrates the depth of anger over the huge pay disparities among the people who keep London on the move 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Strike action is always the last resort, but the refusal of London’s bus operators to engage in collective talks has caused today’s disruption to the traveling public. Bus passengers pay the same fare, so why shouldn’t bus drivers be paid the same rate. The bus operators can well afford to tackle the pay inequality and we would urge them to collectively get around the table and start talking about a fair deal for London’s bus workers.”

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