‘WITH these private companies running London’s buses it’s a race to the bottom – the only way to stop it is to renationalise London Transport,’ Steve Stockwell, Unite Regional Officer, said on the picket line outside Hounslow Bus Garage yesterday morning.
2,200 Unite members went on strike at eight London garages against £2,500 pay cuts imposed by the bus privateer RATP yesterday, with some remaining on strike today and tomorrow, and further action planned for later this month and next.
Drivers on picket lines called for the entire bus network to be renationalised and put under public ownership.
Stockwell continued: ‘RATP is owned by the French government – what are they doing running London buses? We need renationalisation now!’
Hounslow Bus Garage Unite Rep, Ian May, said: ‘We want to maintain and improve our members’ standards of living, not have their money cut, and we want everyone on the same contracts. It must come to sector-wide strike action to achieve it.
‘Remote sign on is also a big threat, which would result in a 6-7% pay cut, or that much increase in the working day.
‘We’ve got a very good turnout today. Members are all very angry, all committed and determined to win.’
Driver and Unite member Clive Collacott said: ‘I’ve been here for 33 years and they want me to take a pay cut of £2,500! It’s a joke. It just shows how much they really appreciate us.
‘We want London-wide action against the introduction of remote sign on, which will mean you’ll be forced to pick up a bus where you shouldn’t be. Bring back London Transport.’
Driver and Unite member Selington Fernandes said: ‘They are paying new drivers just £11 an hour, while the rate should be £15. They are paying less overtime too.
‘We are all doing the same work so we should all get the same pay rate.
‘We are keeping London moving and we have worked throughout the pandemic. I support the call for London-wide strike action and renationalisation of the buses.’
At Shepherd’s Bush bus garage, Abdul Hanafi told News Line: ‘The 100 per cent support for our strike action is us showing our strength to the company.
‘We’re on the picket line from four this morning and until late tonight for three days this week and then two days next week and we won’t stop until the company back down.
‘The bus company (RATP) are using Covid to slash our terms and conditions. While they are sitting in their ivory towers we are putting ourselves at risk out on the road every day.
‘Over 50 drivers have died from Covid and as we speak there are drivers in hospital. Bus companies are seeing Covid as a business opportunity. They should all be nationalised.’