6 Nov 2014

Three fires on London buses this week

A bus caught alight in Mitcham, south-west London at 12.26pm today. It is the third such incident in the capital this week. It took firefighters half an hour to extinguish the blaze on Western Road. It follows fires on buses in Barnet on Monday (after a collision with a car) and Wallington on Wednesday (apparently due to the rear brake seizing).

London drivers want to strike to end inequality

An overwhelming majority of bus drivers across London’s 17 operators have said they are willing to take strike action to end ‘glaringly unfair’ pay disparities across the capital’s buses in a campaign to secure one London wide agreement covering pay, terms and conditions.
The consultative ballot run by their union, Unite, saw 96 per cent vote in favour of action as frustration mounts over the ‘farce’ of 17 separate pay negotiations.

In contrast to tube drivers, there is no one collective pay deal for bus drivers in the capital whose pay is negotiated on a company by company basis leading to pay inequality and pay gaps of over £2 an hour for new starters. Starting rates for drivers vary from £9.30 to £11.46 an hour depending on the bus company.
The consultative ballot paves the way for a formal industrial action ballot of London’s bus drivers if the Capital’s bus operators continue with their refusal to establish a collective negotiating forum that covers the pay and conditions for all London’s bus drivers.

6 Oct 2014

Bedford: Stagecoach strike suspended after new offer

Plans for bus workers to strike in Bedford this week have been called off. Drivers had voted to go on strike after negotiations over pay with Stagecoach East broke down. However the industrial action has been suspended following further talks with management.
Members of Unite will now be balloted on a restructured pay and conditions package, which has been recommended for acceptance by the union, on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. http://www.bedfordshire-news.co.uk

1 Oct 2014

Bedford: Stagecoach drivers vote to strike over pay

Unite has announced its members will strike between 3-9am on Monday 6 October and the same time on Wednesday 8 October after negotiations over pay with Stagecoach East broke down.
The strike will be carried out by 250 drivers and engineers angered by the company’s offer of a less than three per cent rise for June 2014 - June 2015.
Unite regional officer Steve Linger, said: “Stagecoach East offered a two-year deal which amounted to a real terms cut in wages, following a below inflation pay increase last year, and the year before... This latest offer does nothing for our members and their families struggling with the cost of living crisis.
“The company has consistently refused to enter into meaningful and constructive negotiations, leaving our members with no alternative but to strike in support of their claim.
A spokesperson for Stagecoach East said: “We are disappointed the Unite union has called for strike action over a 2.2 per cent pay deal which was accepted five months ago by employees at other depots within the company... We are due to meet representatives from the union today (Wednesday)."

Wigan: Stagecoach drivers strike against attack on conditions

The pickets were out on Saturday at the Stagecoach depot in Lockett Road, Bryn, when the first of four planned walk-outs took place. That’s because the area’s biggest operator is threatening to scrap existing “hard won” job deals. Stagecoach operates more than 90 bus services - including school contracts ferrying hundreds of pupils - per day.
Company chiefs insist they have contingency plans in place to beat the industrial action, although they concede that a “small number of routes” face a reduced service. This includes drafting in managers with public service licences to drive the routes in place of picketing drivers.
But Unite union officer John Boughton said that although staff regretted potential disruption of passengers and commuters, drivers were determined to maintain existing rostering, allocation and scheduling Stagecoach took on when it brought the Wigan First Group operation recently. Further strikes are planned for October 8 and 14.

18 Sep 2014

London bus workers march for equality

Over 150 bus workers marched in central London on Thursday of last week in protest at unequal pay and conditions. The Unite union, which represents the workers, is demanding joint negotiations with over a dozen companies over conditions in London’s bus garages.
“New drivers are being let down by these companies,” said Mohammed, a driver at Willesden garage. “They’re squeezing everything they can out of them.” 

Slashing pay
Since privatisation in the mid-1990s London bus workers have seen their conditions attacked. Intense competition for lucrative routes has boosted profits and slashed workers’ pay.
Workers within the same company can now be on several different rates of pay. A Unite rep from north west London told Socialist Worker, “Some companies won’t let new starters progress to higher pay levels. “But why shouldn’t they get the same as experienced drivers? ...They’re picking up the same people and doing the same job.”

Fiddling terms
One driver from Silvertown garage in east London told Socialist Worker, “In my garage drivers can be paid up to £4 an hour difference... Whenever a company takes over they fiddle our terms. I used to work for First but now it’s Go Ahead. When they took over they got rid of final salary pensions.”
A driver from Lea Interchange was clear what needs to happen, telling Socialist Worker, “We need to strike—the bosses have to know we mean business.” United action can win. In 2012 solid strikes forced bosses to pay a £500 bonus for working during the Olympics. However many believed more could have been won.
If Transport for London can force all companies to introduce cashless payments they, and company bosses, can be forced to negotiate one rate for the job across the capital.

5 Aug 2014

New Stagecoach CEO rakes in £2.27 million

Stagecoach Group chief executive Martin Griffiths 'earned' £2.27 million for his first year in the top job. The company's annual report shows his salary and performance-related bonus was £600,000 – while the value of long-term shares he received was £597,311.
He also received his bonus in full after Stagecoach matched its profit target of £214m. Griffiths was promoted to the top job in May 2013 after Brian Souter decided to step back from day-to-day management of the company he founded.

30 Jun 2014

Engineers at First Glasgow vote to strike over pay

Engineers at Commonwealth Games bus operator First Group Glasgow have overwhelmingly rejected a 1.2% pay offer for 2014-15 after a consultative ballot, prompting Unite to re-serve notice of impending industrial action to the employer.
The latest offer was tabled before Unite members’ following ACAS negotiations last week. However, the new offer – which amounts to a small increase of less than £6 a week for day shift operatives – was kicked-out by a majority of 145 to 3.

Boss doubles his pay
Anger among the workers increased in the aftermath of ACAS negotiations when it was revealed First Group Executive Tim O’Toole saw his pay award double to £2 million for 2014-15, while other directors enjoyed pay rises worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Unite regional industrial officer Eddie Duffy said: “This resounding rejection by the First Glasgow engineers should serve as a wake-up call to the company and the local managing director, Fiona Kerr.
“Last week’s revelations that executive pay at First Group shot through the roof while our members were being consulted on a meagre 1.2% pay offer proved the final straw for a proud workforce that is steeped in the best traditions of the Glasgow bus industry.

In your face
“For years they have worked through below-inflation pay awards to help sustain the company’s Glasgow operations but with such pay disparity being so publicly flaunted when many of our members are struggling to keep up with the basic cost of living, its little wonder anger is intensifying.
“Our message to Fiona Kerr and First Group is this: to avoid strike action, come back with a fair pay offer that meets the expectations of this workforce because it’s clear the finance is there to do so.”