Planned London bus strikes set to begin today (May 25) have been called off following consultation with members who agreed proposals which will halt remote sign-on at Metroline.
The dispute involving more than 4,000 bus drivers was a result of Metroline’s plans to introduce the controversial system, in which drivers do not report to a depot but meet a bus along a route, such as at a bus stop.
However, following the threat of industrial action, the company agreed not to proceed. Instead, Metroline has guaranteed that the measure will not be introduced on current or new routes until 31 December 2022, following which, if it does wish to consider remote sign-on again, it must consult with the union first.
Unite’s members had recorded over a 95 per cent yes vote in favour of industrial action on the matter and have now voted by over 80 per cent to accept the new proposal.
Unite regional officer Mary Summers said, “This is an excellent result for our members at Metroline who were rightly fearful of how remote sign-on would affect their pay, health and wellbeing.
“By standing together in solidarity, our members have forced Metroline to return to the negotiating table to think again and drop their remote sign-on plans for now,” she added.
“The level of anger expressed by Metroline workers demonstrates how deeply unpopular and potentially dangerous remote sign-on is among London bus drivers.”
Because bus drivers are only paid for driving time, remote sign-on amounts on average to a seven per cent cut in pay. It also means there are no checks on whether a driver is fit to drive a bus, raising severe safety fears.
And there are deep concerns that with drivers needing to drive longer to make up the shortfall in wages, coupled with being denied access to toilets, canteens and rest areas, remote sign-on will greatly increase fatigue levels and result in a higher level of ill health and road traffic accidents.
Unite is currently engaging in research launched by TFL into remote sign-on but has stated that if the process is recommended that it will oppose its introduction, potentially leading to London-wide bus strikes.
By Barckley Sumner