Strikes loom in west London
More than 350 west London bus drivers and engineers will begin six days of strike action over pay on Friday 10 November.
The workers, who are employed by London Transit, which is owned by French-company RATP, are striking after they rejected a 6.8% pay offer. According to trade union Unite, this is a ‘significant real terms pay cut’. The union says the real rate of inflation, RPI, stood at 11.4% when the pay increase was supposed to be applied in April.
London Transit says it is disappointed over the decision to take industrial action, saying it has made a competitive and fair offer.
The dispute is also over the company’s attempt to reduce terms and conditions, including removing a long-standing £500 meal relief payment and attacking arrangements for a how workers take days off in lieu, according to the union. Grievances also include the fact it takes seven years of employment before workers reach the full rate of pay, with Unite saying in most other bus companies it takes three years of service.
“RATP…can absolutely afford to table an acceptable pay increase and does not to need to attack workers’ terms and conditions” – Unite general secretary Sharon Graham
Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “RATP is a massive multinational company. It can absolutely afford to table an acceptable pay increase and does not to need to attack workers’ terms and conditions.
“Unite is totally focused on defending and improving our members’ jobs, pay and conditions. The workers at RATP have their union’s total backing during these strikes.”
The workers are based at the Westbourne Park Garage and the strikes are due to impact the 13, 23, 28, 218, 295, 414, 452 and N28 routes. They are planned to take place on 10 and 13 November and 1, 4, 22 and 23 December, with the union warning the industrial action will escalate if the dispute is not resolved. If the action goes ahead, little or no service is expected on the affected routes between approximately 5am on strike days and 6am the day after each strike.
The routes all operate from Westbourne Park Garage and are is approximately 1.5% of the bus provision across London. TfL reports it is doing everything it can to reduce the impact of the strike action.
“Strike action will inevitably cause disruption to passengers but this is entirely the fault of London Transit and RATP’s management” – Unite regional officer, Michelle Braveboy
Unite regional officer, Michelle Braveboy, said: “Strike action will inevitably cause disruption to passengers but this is entirely the fault of London Transit and RATP’s management. They have had every opportunity to resolve this dispute but have failed to do so.”
TfL is urging Unite and RATP Dev Transit London to work together to find a solution to this dispute.
Louise Cheeseman, TfL’s Director of Buses, said: “We encourage both parties to find a solution to this dispute to avoid disruption to Londoners. We’re sorry for any disruption to people’s journeys.”
“Strikes will cause inconvenience to the public and further loss of earnings for our hard-working employees” – Spokesperson for London Transit
A spokesperson for London Transit said: “We are disappointed at the ballot result and the decision to proceed with industrial action. Strikes will cause inconvenience to the public and further loss of earnings for our hard-working employees.
“We have made a competitive and fair offer, worth 8.3% in total, aligned to our commitment to protect drivers and engineers from inflation and reward their efforts. We have also reviewed the Union’s demands with regard to terms and conditions and have put forward proposals we believe should be satisfactory to all parties.
“While union representatives declined our most recent invitation to continue discussions on this year’s pay round, we remain ready to engage at any point. We very much hope that they will meet us and that strikes can be averted.”