‘Indefinite strike to win’ – demand striking bus drivers

Striking Hounslow busworkers on the picket line

‘INDEFINITE strike action to win it quick and win it now,’ Hounslow bus garage driver and Unite member Stoyan Ivanov demanded yesterday.

More than 2,000 drivers employed by bus privateer RATP are to take a 7th and 8th day of strike action against £2,500 pay cuts at five London garages today and tomorrow – there are further strikes planned for Wednesday 7th April and Wednesday 14 April.

The strikes this week are at Fulwell, Hounslow, Park Royal, Shepherd’s Bush and Tolworth garages.

‘RATP are cutting pay and conditions in order to boost profits. The company’s latest accounts (2019) show the French-owned group is highly lucrative,’ said Unite.

‘It had an annual turnover in excess of five billion euros and at the same time Christine Chardon, the chief executive of their London based operation, saw her pay dramatically increased from £196,000 to £363,000.’

Unite regional officer Michelle Braveboy said: ‘The planned attack on workers’ conditions is simply about boosting profits now and in the future.’

Stoyan Ivanov told News Line: ‘We are not going to change our minds and we are going right to the end. We were meant to go on strike last Wednesday and it should have continued. Why did they cancel it? We were all ready for it and members were really upset when the union called it off at the last minute.

‘My opinion is that we should make it an indefinite strike. We are not asking for anything extra, just trying to hold on to what we’ve got.’

Fellow Hounslow driver and Unite member Shafi Mohamoud said: ‘I spoke to an Abellio driver today and he told me that the company gave them £750 pandemic crisis money one week and then £500 the following week, whereas RATP has given us nothing.

‘They have offered 1.7% for a two-year pay deal which is pathetic and the other thing is that they are determined to proceed with these new pay-cutting contracts.’

Meanwhile, striking Manchester busworkers are to stage a cavalcade and mass rally and demonstration at 3pm on Saturday from their Queens Road depot marking five weeks of strike action against attacks by bus privateer Go North West.

More than 400 Go North West bus drivers began indefinite strike in February against new ‘fire and rehire’ contracts which would leave drivers £2,500 a year worse off and cut driver numbers by 10 per cent.

Manchester council has been urged to stop doing business with companies using ‘fire and hire’ and support trade unions amid ongoing protests in the city.

Manchester councillors will be asked this week to support the Unite and GMB trade unions in their strike action against companies pursuing similar strategies.

The motion, proposed by Labour councillor Julie Reid, says: ‘Fire and rehire strategies are being put into operation by some of the UK’s biggest employers to reduce workers’ pay, overtime and holiday benefits.

‘Thousands of British workers are facing a “levelling down” in pay and working conditions, in stark contrast to the government’s stated promises.

‘Workers are being given an ultimatum to either accept reduced pay and benefits or face the sack.

‘The whole trade union movement, TUC leader Frances O’Grady, the Labour Party, and Keir Starmer have united in condemning this disgraceful attack on key workers.’

The motion will be discussed by full council today, Wednesday.

Manchester’s City Mayor Andy Burnham has called for Greater Manchester’s bus services to be brought under ‘public control’ via a ‘franchising’ system.