Bus workers in London need our full support as they resume strike action against attacks on pay and conditions, reports Yonas Makoni
Bus strikers were out again on Friday at Fulwell Garage in Twickenham after talks between Unite and bus company RATP failed earlier in the week.
Last week, members of RATP’s three subsidiary companies, London United, London Sovereign and Quality Line, went on strike over pay and conditions. At London United, they were attempting to bring in new contracts that would see drivers lose £2,500 a year. After talks with the union, management had lowered this to £1,500, prompting a fresh wave of strikes.
‘They’re all doing it’, said one striking worker, referencing the recent disputes around fire-and-rehire at companies such as British Gas, Heathrow and Go North West. ‘They’re using the pandemic as a smokescreen to bring in these changes, that they’ve been planning for a long time, through the backdoor.’
The strikers had brought placards out with information on how much managing directors and shareholders were being paid at the company. In 2019, the highest paid director at the company was paid £363,000 (an increase of £167,000 from the previous year), and £1,800,000 in dividends were paid out to shareholders. The workers were rightly doubtful that these ‘modernisation’ reforms were being implemented out of financial desperation.
While the workers stressed that they did not want to be on strike - “I’d much rather be warm behind the wheel” - they argued that management left them no choice. In comparison to last week, however, workers seemed more confident that their action was having an effect. With only 9 out of 200 buses in operation, they are causing significant disruption. They’re also receiving lots of support from the community and notably from Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon.
The workers say that the London United strikes are set to continue every Wednesday for the rest of the month. Strikes will also be taking place at various times in Tolworth, Harrow, Shepherd’s Bush, Epsom, Park Royal, Hounslow and Edgware. They need our full support.
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