29 Sep 2010

Stagecoach Merseyside drivers reject offer

Bus workers at Stagecoach Merseyside in Liverpool were set to strike on Friday of this week after rejecting a new pay offer that was worse than the previous deal. They held a strongly supported three-day strike last month against a below-inflation pay offer of 2.5 percent for the next two years.
They called off a planned strike on Monday of last week to discuss a new offer that was just 4 percent over two years. Workers rejected this in a workplace consultative ballot following a meeting of over a hundred drivers. Drivers report managers taking a hard line over overtime, swapping shifts and days off as they try and put pressure on workers. 
It’s likely that more action will be needed after Friday. Unite should launch a levy to provide financial support to drivers to help them take hard-hitting action that can win.

Sovereign workers accept pay offer

Workers at Sovereign bus company’s garages in west London have voted to accept a below-inflation pay offer. They rejected an original 1.3 percent offer but accepted it when management made some concessions.
This poor deal comes after the sacking of Sovereign’s Unite convenor, Abdul Omer. Unite must act quickly on the promised ballot for strike action to demand Abdul’s reinstatement.

Strike ballot at London United

Bus workers at London United in west London are taking part in a ballot for strike action this week after rejecting a 1 percent pay offer.

28 Sep 2010

Driver dismissed over faulty brakes loses tribunal

A Stagecoach driver sacked for driving a bus in wintry weather with brakes he claimed were “dangerously” faulty has lost his unfair dismissal claim. Ray Stubbs, 53, of Bridge of Isla Croft, Rothiemay, near Huntly lost his job after allegedly failing to notify his employers until after he completed his morning shift that his vehicle veered to the right when he braked.
He took his employers to an industrial tribunal, but lost yesterday after the panel found favour with Stagecoach, saying Mr Stubbs should have stopped the bus and radioed for assistance, or at least reported the suspected fault later. He continued to drive, picking up passengers along the Inverurie to Aberdeen route on February 3 this year.
Mr Stubbs, who represented himself, said he would not have picked up passengers along the route if the fault happened again, but it occurred only once. His closing submission stated: “I was summarily dismissed by Stagecoach for an offence which I could not possibly have committed, given that they dismissed me for ‘driving a vehicle with defect brakes’, yet just over two hours later they themselves declared the bus fit for use, and the brakes not to be defective." 
The panel said Mr Stubbs believed the brakes to be defective so should not have continued to drive the bus. Mr Stubbs said he expected the decision, and claimed he had been dismissed because he “was making waves all the time about the safety of the buses”.

23 Sep 2010

Stagecoach Merseyside strike suspended

Drivers at Stagecoach Merseyside in Liverpool suspended a planned one-day strike on Monday of this week to discuss a revised pay offer. Workers were set to vote on the new offer this week, which they called derisory.

21 Sep 2010

Busworkers carved out by subcontractor

The RMT union yesterday slammed the treatment of a group of members working for First Devon and Cornwall buses on a sub-contract from National Express. They have effectively been sacked following the re-award of the contract to a different company – Parks of Hamilton – who are refusing to abide by their obligations under the TUPE regulations to re-engage the existing staff. The union is preparing a ballot for industrial action over the issue.

20 Sep 2010

Veolia strike enters second week

Maryland, USA
Prince George's County bus drivers plan to continue their strike for the seventh day today. A five-hour negotiating session Friday ended in gridlock. "Negotiations didn't go well at all," said Howard Marshall, business agent for the bus drivers union. "But we aren't ending the strike. [Drivers] know that without job security they are always going to be tap-danced on."
The roughly 150 contracted drivers on strike, employed by Veolia Transportation, say they want more job security, better health insurance, higher wages and lunch breaks.
Drivers also charge that the company's disciplinary system is too harsh. "Progressive discipline is rarely used," said driver Kathleen LaFortune. "They just go from suspension to termination - for the littlest things, like running a yellow light."
Since the strike began, roughly five of 26 routes have been operating full service. The rest are scheduled for limited service or no service.

17 Sep 2010

London drivers demonstrate against cuts

More than 200 bus workers demonstrated outside London's City Hall on Wednesday over Mayor Boris Johnson's attacks on London's bus service. The Unite union called the protest, and members of the union from other workplaces joined it. These included cleaners, who led the protest with drums and whistles, and porters from Billingsgate fish market – who are also under attack.
Alan, a driver for First Bus Group at Leyton depot, told Socialist Worker, "I'm close to retirement, but I can't stand by and watch as jobs and services for the next generation are destroyed. Different bus companies compete for bus routes – the cheaper the tender the more likely they are to get it. That means when drivers are transferred our pay drops – £60 or £70 at least. That's a race to the bottom – we think wages should be levelled up not down."
A driver from London General's Stockwell depot said his management were looking to cut costs everywhere. "Our breaks are watched. We don't get any rest days. We need investment in the buses not cuts. This service is used by the workers of London, how can we survive without it?"
"Johnson has already cut our service," said Steve Hart, Unite regional organiser. "Now his Eton mate David Cameron is going to come for millions more."
Service users group Campaign for Better Transport brought solidarity greetings to the protest and Dot Gibson from the National Pensioners Convention spoke about the importance of free public transport for the elderly.

16 Sep 2010

Veolia drivers strike for better conditions

Maryland, USA
Drivers for TheBus public transit system in Prince George's County are continuing their strike into a third day. They say they won't return to work until their demands are met.
Union members of the Teamsters' Local 639 say they're striking for better job security, improved health insurance, higher wages and changes in the disciplinary policy. They say cameras that were installed on the buses in 2006 catch what they call "minor infractions" and discipline them unfairly.
But officials for Veolia Transportation - the company that operates TheBus - say the cameras have helped improve safety and driver performance. The strike has severely limited service on 19 routes. Four routes have no service at all.

15 Sep 2010

Drivers at Stagecoach Merseyside to strike next week

By Fran Byron-Chance
Bus drivers working for Stagecoach Merseyside plan to hold a one-day strike on Monday of next week. The action will follow a solid four-day strike by the 350 Unite union members at the end of last month.
Engineers at the site have also begun a ballot—and hope to co-ordinate action with drivers in the future. The drivers are fighting over pay. Bosses are trying to get away with paying drivers a 2 percent pay rise—despite the fact that the company made £126 million last year. Some 81 percent of drivers rejected the offer.
Although the issue of pay sparked the dispute in Merseyside, workers are sick of what they describe as a bullying culture at the firm. The union should name more strike dates now.

14 Sep 2010

Save Our Buses - lobby Boris Johnson

Lobby called by Unite the Union, 
Assemble Wednesday 15 September, 9:30am
Speakers include Ken Livingstone

Transport for London Commissioner, Peter Hendy speaks proudly of the £5 billion cuts package that he is already implementing even before the Government’s demand for 25-40% cuts in the Department for Transport’s budget.
Rocketing fares and reduced mileage will mean a return to the bad old days of clapped out, over crowded buses, reaching less of the city, disappearing from outer London– and driven by low paid drivers.
Busworkers are already facing wage freezes, attacks on conditions, company sell-offs, forced transfers from one garage to another. These planned cuts will accelerate the pace of decline - hundreds, possibly thousands of jobs could be on the line.
Bus trips account for half of all public transport journeys in London, yet the industry receives a fraction of the public subsidy handed to rail. Unite will be calling on Mayor Boris Johnson, who once described London’s bus drivers as “the world’s finest”, to put his money where his mouth is.

Drivers protest in Byfleet

A day of protests outside Byfleet bus station is taking place today. Bus drivers are demonstrating against their management company Abellio for a number of reasons.
Firstly - they're angry after a number of dismissals in the last few months. We understand 7 drivers were sacked for alleged irregularities with ticketing. The drivers say their colleagues were dismissed unfairly, and without a proper disciplinary hearing, or the right to cross examine the witnesses.
The drivers are also dismayed with their working environment - They say their depot in Byfleet is not fit for purpose - and they say the buses are run down too. They're claiming the money that is made in Surrey is pumped away and invested into services in London.
Passengers are being reassured that this is not a strike - and their services should remain unaffected. However, union members have not ruled out strike action in the future.