London bus passengers face potentially severe disruption this weekend as peace talks, designed to resolve a pay dispute concerning support staff, broke up without agreement.
Over 400 Unite members employed by Transport for London (TfL) in the CentreComm control centre, as bus station controllers, network traffic controllers, infrastructure controllers, revenue protection inspectors and road transport enforcement officers are set to walk out for 48 hours from just past midnight on Sunday (August 27).
The workers are angry that Transport for London (TfL) had initially offered a two year pay offer of a £250 non-consolidated payment in each year, which amounts to just £4.80 per week.
Peace talks, designed to find a resolution to the dispute, were held at the conciliation service Acas on Tuesday (August 22). However the talks broke down without agreement after TfL was only prepared to improve their pay offer to a non-consolidated payment of £350 for each year (£6.73 a week).
The pay offer is the worst of any sector of TfL workers. For example, London Underground workers will receive a 3.2 per cent increase this year.
Disruption will result as CentreComm staff are responsible for answering emergency code red alarms directly from bus drivers. If drivers don’t receive a response they can then decide not to proceed on their route.
Other members of the striking workforce are responsible for re-routing buses due to major events, roadworks and accidents.
Unite regional officer Hugh Roberts said, “Our members are bitterly disappointed that TfL failed to put forward a proper pay offer. TfL’s attitude seems to be, bung our members a few quid and they will be happy. That is simply not the case and our members are entitled to a proper pay offer just like all the other workers in the organisation.
“The strike action is inevitably going to cause disruption at a busy time for bus passengers especially as it coincides with the Notting Hill Carnival and the shutdown of much of the London rail network,” he added. “This is entirely the fault of TfL management which has had every opportunity to resolve this dispute long before now.
“Unite remains available for talks; if TfL is prepared to come forward with a realistic offer, strikes could still be avoided, even at this late stage.”