East London Bus Strike Solid

Bow busworkers out in force on their picket line yesterday morning won’t accept a wage freeze
Bow busworkers out in force on their picket line yesterday morning won’t accept a wage freeze

BUSWORKERS employed by East London Bus Group are continuing their 48-hour strike against a pay freeze and management onslaught on their terms and conditions today, and until 3am Sunday morning.

The 48-hour strike – involving 58 bus routes across east London and the City – is being taken by 2,400 busworkers covering Barking, Bow, Leyton, Romford, Upton Park and West Ham.

There was a lively picket at the Bow Garage in East London yesterday.

Michael Craige said: ‘We normally get an annual pay rise but they say they are not doing it this year.

We are all very angry.’

Anthony Sinclair, 30-years a bus driver, added: ‘To me it’s not just the pay, it’s the working conditions. They want to freeze the pay, take away the sickness pay and decrease holiday entitlement – they want us to work longer for less.

‘Also, it’s about the new drivers who start on a lot less, £6,000 less than us. I object to that because it puts our jobs at stake. When there are enough of them they’ll put an ultimatum on us: “sign a new contract or you’re sacked!”.

‘This is a hard enough job at the best of times, we are driving buses, half of which are not really roadworthy, constantly breaking down.

‘I really feel sorry for the public who, after all, are paying for these buses, only to find them constantly breaking down.

‘There should be a London-wide bus strike against TfL (Transport for London) who are putting the squeeze on the companies and telling them all to cut costs.’

Robert Rust said: ‘Bringing in new drivers on a lower rate is a real threat to us and should never have been allowed in the first place.

‘It’s a threat in two ways: first because they are trying to break our unity and secondly because they’ll soon say to us sign a new contract or get out.’

Shahzad Abbasi said: ‘The company has frozen the pay for 2009/10, but with everything going up – electricity, gas, petrol, food – how can we accept a pay freeze?

‘This strike action should be more co-ordinated to produce a more successful result.

‘Mrs Thatcher regionalised the London buses and split them up into 11 different regions. But we all have to fight together to defend our pay and conditions.

‘When Ken Livingstone was Mayor of London he paid us all a £20-a-week allowance on top of our wages; that has been taken from us and is now paid direct to the management.

‘Bus drivers play an important role in society and they should be considered as key workers and treated and paid accordingly.’