London bus, photo Graham Richardson/CC

London bus, photo Graham Richardson/CC   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

London bus drivers employed by Metroline are to be balloted for industrial action in a dispute over the company’s proposals to introduce a new remote sign-on system.

Metroline operates in North and West London, and around 16% of all bus drivers in London work for the company.

Remote sign-on means drivers do not report to a depot to start work, but meet their bus and begin work at an alternative location such as a bus stop. Remote sign-on forces drivers to start work away from the depot, reducing costs and boosting the company’s profits.

But there is no benefit to passengers, and in fact, remote sign-on could well cause disruption to services used by the hundreds of thousands of people who use buses every day to get to work and school.

Anger about Metroline’s proposals was highlighted by a consultative ballot at both its companies in London. Unite members at Metroline West recorded a 99% Yes vote, while the figure for Metroline Travel was 97.8%.

Ballot papers will be sent from 18 September and the ballot will close on 26 October with strikes across London in November should the members vote in favour of industrial action.