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From The Socialist newspaper, 13 September 2017

Bus safety: we won't be distracted from public ownership

London bus, photo Graham Richardson (Creative Commons)

London bus, photo Graham Richardson (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Andy Beadle, Unite Battersea bus branch

Twenty-five deaths and nearly 12,000 injuries have been caused by buses on the capital's streets in just two years. The lethal pressures heaped on bus drivers are shown in a new report 'Driven to Distraction', by the London Assembly's Transport Committee.

Unite's bus workers are demonstrating at City Hall to demand the report's fine words are translated into action. This is a scandal that stands alongside the deaths and devastation from Britain's privatised trains. The same companies, like Arriva, First and Stagecoach, operate London buses.

"Long periods of intense concentration and a system run on stressful, barely achievable targets inevitably have consequences for the industry", says the report.

If we do our job properly, we will be pressed with demands from the controllers and reports to our manager for being late. We will be punished with being forced to finish late and shortened meal breaks.

From drivers to directors, everyone knows this and understands the consequences. But everyone has rewards for turning a blind eye to safety.

If you take shortcuts, like quickly filling all the tickboxes without physically doing all the checks (which frankly is all we get time for) then you get no hassle. Of course, if you have an accident as a result, the company will make you a scapegoat.

Driven to Distraction gives some brilliant examples in "A day in the life of a bus driver" and shows a big range of distractions we face at every moment. It's worth a look.

However, the report shows effects but not causes. After more than two decades of privatisation and neglect even London's pro-austerity, pro-capitalist politicians have been forced to respond. But what will they do?

The report admits, "TfL [Transport for London] cannot realistically expect bus operators to give safety the priority it deserves without financial reward." Socialists would struggle to find a better reason to bring buses back under public ownership with democratic control by bus workers and users!

TfL faces massive cuts from central government. Yet the report calls for measures including "performance-related payments" to senior staff (515 TfL staff are already on over 100,000 annual pay). They want more driver training, better fleet maintenance, probably more drivers and a whole load of other things. How is it all going to happen?

They "are concerned that the working day is too long for drivers". So are we! But we don't work rest days and overtime because we love driving so much. Shorter hours must mean no loss of pay.

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In The Socialist 13 September 2017:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories retreat on pay cap

"I've been placed in charge of wards without defibrillators"

Rate of black imprisonment worse than US

Tories 'flouting duty' on poison air, says UN


TUC congress 2017

NSSN lobby of the TUC 2017: rank-and-file solidarity to smash the pay cap

TUC congress 2017: time for action on pay


Workplace news and analysis

Union victory at the Bank of England

Bus safety: we won't be distracted from public ownership

CWU members prepare for industrial action at Royal Mail

Barts strike - 'Up the ante' if necessary

McStriker addresses Greenwich trade unionists

Sports Direct's broken promises


Socialist Students

Kick out the Tories, fight for free education!

Interview with leader of students' union in the Spanish state: "When we fight, we win!"

Young Socialists launched in Greater Manchester


International socialist news and analysis

Korean peninsula: is nuclear war likely?


The fight in Labour

Readmit the socialists - for a federal Labour Party


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Thousands march in Bristol - mayor needs real anti-cuts strategy

Boost to Chatsworth NHS campaign


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Intimate insight into a revolutionary icon

Trotsky's "insightful and frank examination" of revolution out soon

The Socialist inbox

New documentary asks women how their bodies are sexualised and policed


 

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