Kent bus workers to strike

Arriva’s pay failures result in Kent bus strikes

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Over 600 bus workers, employed by Arriva, based in Kent, will take four days of strike action next month in a dispute over pay.

The workers who are members of Unite have backed strike action after the company made a pay offer of around 10 per cent. With the real rate of inflation currently standing at 12.3 per cent, the offer is a real terms pay cut.

The strike action will take place on Monday 5 September, Friday 16 September, Tuesday 20 September and Friday 30 September.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said,“Arriva and Deutsche Bahn are incredibly wealthy companies. They can fully afford to give our members a decent pay rise but have chosen not.

“Unite’s members have rightly rejected a real terms pay cut masquerading as a pay rise and they will be receiving the union’s total support throughout this dispute.”

The workers operate from depots in Gillingham, Maidstone, Gravesend and Tunbridge Wells in Kent.

Arriva is owned by Deutsche Bahn which is one of the largest transport companies in the world and is effectively owned by the German government. In the last 10 years, Arriva’s UK bus division has paid £560 million to Deutsche Bahn.

Even though Deutsche Bahn is extremely profitable, paying dividends of £5 billion to the German government over the last decade, notices have gone up in the workers’ depots claiming Arriva is running at a loss.

Unite regional officer Janet Nobbs added, “Bus strikes will inevitably cause severe disruption across Kent but this dispute is entirely of Arriva’s own making. Arriva has had every opportunity to resolve this dispute but it has chosen not to do so.”

The union’s Arriva members in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire have also recently announced strike action beginning this month, while an industrial action ballot of Arriva workers in North London closes tomorrow. Last month an all-out strike involving Arriva bus drivers in North West England was resolved after workers accepted a pay increase of 11.1 per cent.

The planned action by Arriva bus drivers in Essex has been called off after workers accepted an improved pay.

By Barckley Sumner

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