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Save London buses protest

Save London buses protest. Photo: Peter Bird

Peter Bird reports on a Unite-organised march in south London demanding a reversal to Tory plans to cut London buses and bus routes

Demonstrators congregated at Camberwell Green in south London on Wednesday and marched to Peckham in the latest of a series of actions protesting the plan to axe 16 London bus routes and 250 buses.

Previous protests took place on 3 August and 6 September and the RMT organised a massive rally about London transport cuts on 2 September.

On Wednesday Marina Ahmad, London Assembly member for Southwark, thanked the members of Unite the union for arranging the event. She said that 25 percent of the proposed cuts were to routes passing through Southwark.

“I came here on a number 12 bus (one of the routes under threat) and I know how much buses mean to people: school children, older people, disabled people, and lower-paid workers who absolutely rely on buses to get them to work. Cutting these services is an unequal way of behaving.”

Pauls Peters from Disabled People Against Cuts echo the message:

“As a disabled passenger, and as a woman passenger….cuts will mean overcrowded buses and longer journeys …inaccessible and more expensive journeys. South London is already poorly served for public transport, we seem to be the forgotten part of London, we don’t have tubes or trams, and we are heavily reliant on buses.”

John Murphy, Unite London Lead Bus Officer, said “some bus drivers are already on the breadline” and spoke of the affects the cost of living crisis will have on them and feared that cutting their routes will result in lower earnings and redundancies.

“This is not how you treat people who deserve to be respected. We’ve seen how the government treat fireman, the nurses, and tube and train drivers. There’s a reason why workers are standing up and saying no. It’s because you can’t push people until they go over the edge, at some point they will fight back and we’re at that point. We have the leadership in place and we have members who want to fight back. If they think they’re going to walk over us they are greatly mistaken because we are going to fight.”

As the march progressed through the streets of south London, the public support was obvious as motorists hooted and pedestrians waved. The resistance is clearly building.

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