UNITE members at RATP London United yesterday held their sixth day of strike action against £2,500 per annum pay cuts being imposed by French government-owned bus privateer.
They sent greetings to striking colleagues in Manchester.
Hounslow Bus Garage Unite Rep Ian May said: ‘We are fully in support of the guys in Manchester, who are on strike indefinitely against Go North West and their fire and rehire attacks. They are fighting for all of us.
‘Strikebreakers up there are running buses that don’t have ramps for disabled passengers and it is questionable whether this is legal. The disabled can’t travel because they haven’t the legally required ramps.
‘What RATP is doing here is bringing in new inferior contracts for new signers and also for existing drivers if they move to another depot within the company. We’ve calculated that it amounts to a £2,000-£2,500 pay cut.
‘These contracts must be scrapped. I call for the renationalisation of the bus industry. Bring it back into public ownership – railways, buses and all utilities.’
Driver and Unite member Socorro Fernandes said: ‘We need a pay rise, not a pay cut and fairer conditions, not worse.’
At Fulwell Garage in Twickenham, driver and Unite member Tom Meldon said: ‘We are getting trampled and bulldozed over by this arrogant management system which is poisoning the industry.
‘If we accept this assault on our terms and conditions it will put us back 20 years. First of all they are offering a derisory, insulting 0.5% on our hourly pay, which to start with is a pay cut.
‘On top of that they want to take away our attendance and safety allowance and add another 10 minutes to our unpaid meal break. That 10 minutes alone amounts to a loss of £700 a year. Safety and attendance allowance is £11 a week, which means another £600 a year cut. Along with the extra time they want us on duty we’ve worked it out as a £2,500 a year pay cut.
‘We never had this problem before privatisation. RATP have won a massive contract in Dubai.
‘It’s horrendous what they want us to do here and that’s before they bring in remote sign on, which will be next and which will effectively be the Uberisation and the bringing in of zero hours contracts in the bus service.
‘We’re out on strike again on 24th and 31st of March, but we all feel that one day a week is not enough. We need to escalate.’
Driver and Unite member Constantine Stefanuca said: ‘Nationalisation is the only answer.’
On the picket line at Park Royal depot in north-west London, Gary Scripps, Unite rep, told News Line: ‘The company has made a few concessions but have not budged on the main issue, the new contract.
‘The new contract involves a 60-minute unpaid break, and losing £2 to £3 an hour all for a 0.5% pay rise.
‘We need a government that will renationalise the buses, privatisation has been used to cut wages.
‘’We have drivers from the No. 18 bus route from Metroline who came when RATP won the contract by bidding £2 million less, if those drivers had have stayed with Metroline their pay would have been cut.
‘Two other garages, Stamford Brook and Hounslow Heath, are reballoting to join the strike in early April.’
On a lively picket line at the Shepherd’s Bush garage, Futa Amiriu said: ‘We are only fighting for what is ours.
‘Prices are rising and 25% of the drivers here have children going to university.
‘I have three children at university and I have to top up their student support.
‘This government is accusing Russia of banning protests but that is what is happening here.’
Unite rep Abdul Hanafi added: ‘We won’t accept the new contracts and will only accept a pay rise above inflation.’
- An eleventh-hour improved pay offer by RATP on Tuesday night resulted in strikes planned for yesterday by bus workers employed on the Quality Line and London Sovereign services being called off by Unite, to allow members a ballot on the employer’s proposal.
Unite regional officer Michelle Braveboy said: ‘Following intensive negotiations, RATP made improved offers for our members at London Sovereign and at Quality Line.
‘As a result Unite has suspended tomorrow’s strikes to allow our members a ballot on those offers.
‘If Unite’s members at Quality Line and London Sovereign reject the pay offer then strikes scheduled for 24 and 31 March will go ahead as planned. London United workers are also set to strike on those days.’