Arriva busworkers are fighting ‘miserly 3% pay offer!’

Unite pickets yesterday morning at West Norwood's Arriva garage

SUPPORT for the bus workers, who were out on strike in large numbers yesterday to force private bus owners Arriva to increase their miserly 3% pay offer, is growing.

More and more drivers have joined the strike and the Unite union, to take on Arriva, pointing out that the bosses pay lower rates than any other company.

For working during Covid when 55-60 drivers died, Arriva offered its staff a small box of chocolates instead of a pay out.

On the picket line at Thornton Heath yesterday morning, Everton who did not wish to give his surname for fear of victimisation, said: ‘We don’t get paid enough.

‘The dangers that we have to deal with on a day-to-day basis – well, we are just not paid what we are worth. Train drivers get paid more, and if there are leaves on the track the trains stop, but no matter what happens, the buses have to run.

‘We keep the economy running taking people into work . . . snowing, Covid, . . the buses always keep running. We are taken for granted.

‘The aggressive behaviour we have to deal with, the near misses, people on their phones walking in front of the bus. You get an “adrenaline dump” into your body, but we still need to function and be professional. Drivers are responsible for safety. We don’t feel valued.

‘I have never been political but we have been propelled into a fight. The turnout for this strike has been massive. On another route everyone is asking about us and congratulating us. They want us to win.

‘People are aware that the inflation rate is near 8%. We have to have more money. We cannot settle for what we have been offered. We need 8%. It will be a massive battle for pay. We need to live’, he said.

On the picket line, Unite member Osborn Mobias explained to News Line: ‘I have been with Arriva for three years. They gave us an offer which was 1% last year, and we accepted that one.

‘Talks’ were due in April for a further rise this year but were delayed until October.

‘By October we knew that inflation was going to be higher because of Covid, so although 3% seems to be a good offer, it’s not a good offer when prices of everything are just going up.

‘We just want to be able to pay our bills and live, to survive.

‘It would be nice if all the drivers in other companies united, and we strike together. Hopefully, they will get the momentum from this strike because we are worth more.’

Chris Roberts, Unite rep at Thornton Heath, said yesterday: ‘There are 130 pay grades just within Arriva.

‘We want to align all the different pay deals across the board. We can be carrying up to 90 people. It is a highly responsible job.’