LONDON bus operator Metroline’s decision not to permanently drop its controversial ‘remote sign-on’ policy will lead to five days of strike action that will cause serious disruption to services in the north and west of the capital.
Unite the union has announced 48 hours of strike action by more than 4,000 bus drivers on Tuesday 25 May and Wednesday 26 May, to be followed by a 72-hour strike on Monday 7 June, Tuesday 8 June and Wednesday 9 June.
Unite gave Metroline bosses nearly three weeks’ warning to drop its policy because of health & safety concerns regarding its members and the travelling public – or face industrial action.
Unite regional officer Mary Summers said: ‘Unite wrote to Metroline’s managing director Stephen Harris last month to give a generous and reasonable timeframe for the company to reconsider its position prior to the union issuing notice for industrial action.
‘However, we warned Metroline that if we didn’t hear from the company by 10 May that it was jettisoning this misguided policy, we would be announcing strikes dates which we have now done.
‘We are sorry for the disruption to the travelling public that the 48-hour and 72-hour strikes will cause, however, we firmly believe that the health & safety of our members must be our paramount consideration.’
London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has instructed the bosses at Transport for London (TfL) to introduce an immediate moratorium, which will not be lifted until detailed research into ‘remote sign on’ is completed. Metroline has stated it is only pausing the introduction of ‘remote sign-on’.
Summers added: ‘Unite’s door is open for a constructive dialogue with Metroline to resolve this dispute before strike action begins – we urge them to take up that opportunity.’
A total of 96 per cent of Metroline West and 97 per cent of Metroline Travel members have voted for strike action on Metroline routes. The company employs about 16 per cent of all bus drivers in the capital.