The increasingly bitter dispute, involving London United, a subsidiary of the French owned company RATP, is set to intensify, after bus drivers at two more garages voted to join the industrial action over pay and attacks on conditions.
Drivers at both Stamford Brook and Hounslow Heath have voted to join the industrial action. It will mean that further strikes beginning on Thursday, April 15 will involve London United drivers at all seven of its garages.
The five depots already taking strike action are Fulwell, Hounslow, Park Royal, Shepherd’s Bush and Tolworth garages. These five garages are on strike today (April 1) and will also be on strike on Wednesday, April 7.
With seven garages in South and West London involved in strike action from 15 April, disruption to bus services, especially in this part of London, will dramatically intensify.
Negotiations broke down last week when the company’s proposed pay offers to resolve the 2019 and 2020 pay claims were dramatically below members’ expectations. Management also tried to insert controversial clauses into drivers contracts.
The drivers at Stamford Brook and Hounslow Heath, both initially overwhelmingly voted for strike action but were unable to join the other London United garages as they narrowly failed to clear turnout hurdles that are key parts of the government’s anti-union laws. As a consequence they had to be re-balloted.
Unite regional officer Michelle Braveboy said, “This is a significant and welcome development, the strike action will now intensify.
“This vote is a clear message to RATP’s management that bus drivers will continue to strike until they secure a fair settlement.
“The drivers who have been considered key workers throughout the dispute are rightly asking how on earth RATP believes it is acceptable to cut drivers’ pay in real terms and undermine their conditions, when they have gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep London moving,” she added.
“RATP is a highly profitable company and it can easily afford a pay rise for its workers. Attempts to cut pay and reduce conditions are all about greed and nothing to do with need.
“If increasing disruption to bus services is to be avoided then RATP must make a significantly improved pay offer and end its attempts to undermine its workers’ conditions,” Braveboy continued.
RATP are 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 and at the same time Christine Chardon, the chief executive of their London based operation, saw her pay dramatically increased from £196,000 to £363,000.
By Barckley Sumner