The strike by First bus drivers in London on 29 August showed management that bus workers are serious about our claim for decent pay. Just as important, it’s got bus workers in garage canteens across London saying: “about time too”.
A London bus driver
Some garages don’t even have proper canteens these days but it’s definitely got us inspired. For the first time since the mid-1990s privatisation of London buses, widespread militant action seems on the cards across the capital.
Times have changed. Back in pre-privatisation London Transport days, if you failed your probation as a bus driver, they’d make you a conductor. And if you failed as a conductor, they’d put you on the Underground!
These days, tube workers are better paid than us, get better sick pay, more holidays and better conditions. It’s not so much they’ve gone forward, but we’ve gone back.
Unite’s London bus workers campaign is for £30,000 or 5% increase, whichever’s most – across all bus firms operating for Transport for London.
This can be an important first step in rebuilding the united strength of bus workers. London bus workers working for different companies are currently balloting on equally dismal pay offers.
Together, we can confront this race to the bottom.
We say, don’t give another penny to New Labour – the party that backs privatisation and bosses’ attempts to keep down wages. We need a new workers’ party.
We say return London buses to public ownership, but with democratic control. Take private profit out of public transport.