BUS STRIKE ‘GREAT TURN-OUT!’ – RMT refuses to cross picket lines

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The picket line at Harrow yesterday morning – RMT members respected the picket line
The picket line at Harrow yesterday morning – RMT members respected the picket line

LONDON bus workers took their second 24-hour strike yesterday demanding that all drivers are paid the same rate of pay.

There are further strikes planned for Friday 13 February and Monday 16 February.

Unite said: ‘There was solid support across London as up to 20,000 bus workers across the capital’s 18 bus operators walked out for a second time to end pay inequality and secure one collective agreement for pay and conditions.

‘There were picket lines in place outside London’s 70 bus garages.’

Unite added: ‘A refusal by the operators to address pay inequality has led to pay gaps of over £3 an hour for new starters opening up, with pay varying from £9.30 to £12.34 an hour depending on the company.’

At North Harrow Bus Garage members of the RMT union refused to cross the picket line, meaning not a single vehicle left the garage.

The picket began at three in the morning and lasted all day on Pinner Road.

Unite rep Steve Barlow said: ‘Not a single bus has come out of this garage and RMT are fully behind us. None of the RMT bus workers have come into work. We are fighting for equal pay across all London buses.’

A brazier was lit to keep the Clapton bus garage strikers warm, who had been on their picket line since two in the morning, despite heavy snow fall.

Unite branch chair for Clapton Bus Garage told News Line: ‘Clapton is always 100%. We always get the backing of our members.

‘We have got a good turnout on the picket despite the snow. We call for £32,000 a year plus for every driver.’

There was a lively picket at Catford Bus Garage in South East London.

Jade Bloomfield, Unite branch chair at the garage, told News Line: ‘There is almost six pounds an hour difference in rates of pay at this garage, which amounts to about £240 a week.

‘This is due to tendering and driving wages down. New starters get low wages. There used to be three rates of pay at this garage now there are 18, despite the fact that we all do the same job.

‘Nothing has changed since the last strike. All we want is talks to start. The management of the 18 companies won’t talk to us. We are getting fed up about the way that the companies are treating us.’

Pickets were out at Stockwell bus garage in South West London.

Jonathan Faull, bus driver and Unite member said: ‘I am on the top rate so I do not stand to gain much from this action, but it is not fair that people who started a week after me are getting paid £3-an-hour less. The whole privatisation system is set up to have the drivers competing against each other.’

Pickets were in a confident and determined mood at the Metroline Holloway bus garage, north London. Unite member Michael Wood said: ‘We’re here to support our rights and support our union calling a strike.

‘In the long run it will benefit us. The strike is about all drivers having the same pay.

‘The buses should be re-nationalised, they should put the companies under one name then everybody will have the same rights. The way things are going there will be more people coming out on strike.’

On the picket line at Greenford Bus Garage in West London, Unite Branch Chairman John Cole told News Line: ‘It’s been a good turnout, a great turnout, we’re out solid.

‘All London bus drivers must be on one rate of pay. Boris Johnson and TfL just want to wash their hands of it and say we should talk to the individual companies, but the individual companies are just cowboys.

‘We are on strike again on the 13th and 16th and we are prepared to escalate. We have to win this fight.’