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Bus workers gear up for action
Hundreds of bus workers from East London Bus Group (ELBG) practically filled East Ham Town Hall on Thursday 13 May to attend a Unite union meeting. ELBG is one of London's biggest bus operators employing several thousand workers in east and south east London.
Union leaders said members had seen ELBG notices claiming the firm needed to save £17 million over six months or the firm would fold. But repainting of garage offices and careful tightening of aspects of health and safety suggested the company was preparing a sell-off. Already supervisors had been told their annual pay was being cut by £4,000 and their numbers could be cut by 10-20.
In recent years ELBG's workers have been the most militant London bus workers and have secured the best pay and conditions in the capital. Their dispute last year over pay and conditions has not been resolved, but three separate strike days last November had built workers' confidence.
Thursday's mass meeting had been called in advance of the next pay negotiations on 18 May. At the meeting, without dissent, the negotiating committee was instructed to call a consultative ballot for action if the bosses proposed any cuts in pay or conditions. Nobody opposed the suggestion that the action might be a week-long strike.
Workers from other London bus firms pledged support. If ELBG workers are defeated, others would follow in the "race to the bottom".
London bus worker
In The Socialist 19 May 2010:
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party election analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party workplace news