Fresh London bus strikes as peace talks fail

Row over attacks on workers’ pay and terms continue

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Londoners face fresh public transport disruption as Unite announced further strike action involving bus drivers employed by London United, a subsidiary of the French owned company RATP, in the long running dispute over pay and attacks on workers’ conditions.

Workers at all seven London United bus garages are on strike today (Thursday April 15). The striking bus drivers operate from the Fulwell, Hounslow, Hounslow Heath, Park Royal, Shepherd’s Bush, Stamford Brook and Tolworth garages. The highest level of disruption to commuters will be on routes in South and West London that the depots serve.

The strikes today went ahead after talks brokered by the conciliation service Acas broke up late yesterday (Wednesday April 14) without agreement.

Unite has announced further strikes for Friday April 23, Monday April 26 and Friday  May 7. With London gradually opening up from lockdown and public transport usage on the rise, each strike is causing increasing disruption and delays.

The talks failed to reach agreement as RATP failed to offer pay increases to settle the outstanding 2019 and 2020 pay claims.

RATP is attempting to cut pay and conditions in order to boost profits. The company’s latest accounts (2019) show the French owned group is highly lucrative. It had an annual turnover in excess of 5 billion euros, at the same time Catherine Chardon, the chief executive of their London based operation, saw her pay dramatically increase from £196,000 to £363,000.

Unite regional officer Michelle Braveboy said, “Unite’s members are on strike today and will take further industrial action until RATP makes a fair and reasonable pay offer.

“Our members have worked throughout the pandemic, risking their health and that of their families and frankly the offer put forward by RATP is insulting.

“RATP appears to have plenty of money to pay its corporate fat cats and invest in refurbishing its offices, but when it comes to paying the bus drivers who are essential to its operation it claims the cupboard is bare.

“Bus drivers understand that by going on strike passengers in London will face substantial disruption to their journeys but they feel that they have been left with no option as a direct result of the company’s failure to make a fair offer.

“Unite has always made it clear that the union is available for talks at any time and if RATP is prepared to come forward with an offer that our members find acceptable then strikes planned for the coming weeks can be averted,” she added.

By Barckley Sumner

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