• Robert Spicer

“On The Buses”: London Bus Drivers’ Strike

Bus drivers in London are today (13th January 2015) participating in a 24-hour strike over pay and conditions. Members of the Unite union at 18 bus companies walked out, leaving Transport for London (TfL) stating that about 33% of its buses were operating. Many of the drivers are striking due to the low wage compared to the high cost of living in London. As the BBC reports, one striking driver, Jake, commented that; “It depends on the shifts I get per week [whether] I can take home £300 and rent in north London is like £1,000 a month.”

Unite stated that wages were negotiated on an individual company basis, meaning that some rates of pay could vary by more than £3. Unite were therefore calling for a single agreement covering all bus companies. However, they felt forced into strike action due to bus companies’ refusal to meet with them.

In response, the TfL commented that less than 16% of London bus drivers voted in favour of the strike. Mike Weston, TfL’s Director of Buses stated, “As in all professions, bus drivers have different skills and experience and it is only right that this can be reflected in pay… If all drivers are paid the average then by definition half of all bus drivers will need to take a pay cut. Any ‘levelling up’ of pay to the highest rates would lead to a cut in bus services, an increase in fares, or both.”

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