Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1055/29556

From The Socialist newspaper, 11 September 2019

Unions must fight to make bus drivers and passengers safe

London bus, photo Graham Richardson (Creative Commons)

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

Andy Beadle, Unite the Union shop steward (retired but still knackered after 23 years bus driving)

A major report has at last been published, following concerns over driver fatigue on London's buses. High levels of deaths and injuries involving buses have been recorded.

These led to years of campaigning by activists in Unite the Union, the Socialist Party and other groups concerned with road safety. Under pressure, Transport for London (TfL) finally ordered the survey "to understand if fatigue is a problem for London bus drivers, and if so, investigate the nature of this problem and propose solutions." (See content.tfl.gov.uk/bus-driver-fatigue-report.pdf).

When the boss isn't listening, any driver will tell you we're always knackered. And if TfL don't know (or pretend they don't know) why are they running the industry?

The Loughborough University survey was never going to blame the bus bosses, considering they were effectively the paymasters for this report. Yet despite the academic and sometimes diplomatic language, the truth shines through.

In each bus company a "focus group" of 6-8 drivers was interviewed. All of the participants believed that fatigue is an issue among London bus drivers.

In addition to shift work, insufficient sleep and long working hours they listed time to travel to work as a factor, with commuting times of up to one and a half to two hours each way. Additionally, due mainly to inadequate pay, levels of overtime are high.

Of 25,000 London bus drivers, 1,353 responded to a survey questionnaire. Alarmingly, 17% of drivers indicated that they had fallen asleep while driving the bus at least once in the past 12 months. 79% of drivers who responded believed that their working hours lead to sleepiness while driving the bus.

Of the ten bus firms operating for TfL, none has a formal or specific policy relating to driver fatigue despite the fact that most operators recognised that it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

The majority of participants know how to report fatigue, but many are unsure of how this would be handled by managers, and so few have ever done so. A small number of drivers had reported fatigue because of worries about the safety implications of carrying on working while tired.

Others believed they would face being disciplined if they admitted to feeling tired and suggested they would be more likely to call in sick in such a situation. Participants suggested that they were 'not allowed' to be tired and were unlikely to discuss fatigue either with managers, supervisors, or other drivers.

Two other notable points came out in the focus groups. There was a general wish for shorter hours with better pay, which it was thought would lead to a reduction in fatigue. And a more active union was cited as being required to help improve the working situation for bus drivers.

The big bus operators are the same companies responsible for the catastrophic safety outcome on Britain's railways. (First group does not operate buses in London at present.) Although TfL is supposed to regulate them, the truth is rather the other way round.

Unfortunately, the proposed solutions of the report do not consider the significance of the worsening in safety culture since London bus privatisation in the 1990s. The rule by the big public transport companies is not considered.

Instead, the report states that "all parties (drivers, managers, operators at all levels, TfL, borough councils, unions and the Department for Transport) have a part to play in implementing any proposed solution."

Bus workers cannot let themselves be lured into this approach. TfL on behalf of the big bus companies suggests drivers and unions take responsibility while they run the industry for private profit. Union involvement would be a trap.

Unite's objectives in its own rule book - based on many decades of collective experience - offer a practical approach. It demands a "socialist vision for... a collective society in which public services are directly provided on the basis of public need and not private greed, and... public ownership of important areas of economic activity and services including... local passenger transport."

Unite should see the recent demo outside London City Hall as a first step in a persistent and energetic campaign with these industrial as well as political demands.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

In The Socialist 11 September 2019:


International socialist news and analysis

Far right makes gains in Germany

South Africa: Xenophobic violence - a product of failed capitalist policies

West Papuans demand self-determination in London


What we think

Tories in tatters: Corbyn must seize the time


Opinion

Capitalist 'democracy' v socialist democracy


Workplace news

TUC: Lost opportunity to organise a united struggle

NSSN lobby of TUC: Upbeat meeting calls for trade union lead to boot out Tories

Fighting PCS general secretary needed - Marion Lloyd: Why I am standing

End austerity in the civil service: General election now

PCS strike at BEIS: "The life we live is not liveable"

Unions must fight to make bus drivers and passengers safe

Asda workers protest against worse contract

UCU ballots - yes to strike action on pensions, pay, workloads and equality

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Students and workers unite against fees, low pay climate change

Tory meltdown - Organise to finish them off

Another London block of flats destroyed by fire - remove unsafe cladding now!

Leeds pensioners occupy BBC to save free TV licenses

Frimley hospital staff fight back-door privatisation

Leicester Kashmir protest rejects religious smokescreen

Salisbury welcomes Socialist campaigners

Socialist newspaper sales round-up

Coventry: 100 pack meeting against congestion charge

Climate strikes: trade union round-up


Scotland

Scotland and Brexit: Developing threat to the capitalist union


 

Home   |   The Socialist 11 September 2019   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Bus:

triangleBus drivers halt sackings - now restore our pay

triangleLondon bus rep dismissal update

triangleSolidarity with victimised bus rep Moe

triangle"If you think bus and rail services are crap, sign our petition to take them back"

triangleLondon bus drivers ballot to strike

Unions:

triangleNew laws: Unions must be on guard against attacks on workers' interests

triangleAs coronavirus crisis intensifies, class antagonisms deepen

triangleThe self-employed need 100% of their income, and now!

Drivers:

triangleAll we want for Christmas is a no-strings pay rise

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleThe NSSN in Brighton lobbying the TUC, 8.9.19. A report will be posted soon. photo by Mary Finch

London:

triangleAll in this together? The 'Blitz spirit' myth

triangleKey workers should make bold demands

Union:

triangleFight for safety, staffing and services - Covid chaos for benefits claimants

Unite:

triangleDetermined St Mungo's homelessness workers strike for three days

Transport:

triangleTransport union RMT demands action for coronavirus tube safety

Buses:

triangleNationalisation only way to safeguard jobs and skills at Wrightbus

Public transport:

triangleNationalise the railways: For an integrated public transport system

Public services:

triangleMore than ever, we need accountable union leaders

Bus workers:

triangleHackney school bus workers win pay increase following strikes

Public ownership:

triangleToo little too late

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

2/4/20

Royal Mail

Collective action becoming necessary to ensure safety and vital deliveries

1/4/20

Bus

Bus drivers halt sackings - now restore our pay

1/4/20

Children

Fully fund hospices to care for vulnerable children

1/4/20

Coronavirus

Help us continue to fight for workers and socialism

1/4/20

Socialist Party

Building the Socialist Party

1/4/20

CWU

Postal workers walk out over health, safety and junk mail

31/3/20

Coronavirus

Fight for safety, staffing and services - Covid chaos for benefits claimants

31/3/20

Northern Ireland

Bosses concede to walkouts in Northern Ireland

31/3/20

Bin workers

Refuse collection workers strike

31/3/20

Hull

Hull construction workers force bosses to shut down site over health and safety fears

31/3/20

Coronavirus

Key workers should make bold demands

31/3/20

Coronavirus

Self-isolation class divide: decent homes for all!

31/3/20

Leicester

Leicester: Nylacast worker exposes truth

31/3/20

PCS

More than ever, we need accountable union leaders

31/3/20

Coronavirus

Councils must use resources now for emergency response

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999