Dozens of bus drivers at CT Plus in Hackney, east London, picketed their depot on Friday of last week over pay. Drivers in passing cars and buses from other companies expressed their support for the pickets. The drivers, who are in the Unite union, have been given a paltry 1 percent pay rise. They are demanding the RPI rate of inflation, currently running at 4.7 percent, plus 2 percent.
CT Plus is a “social enterprise” where profits are meant to be reinvested for a social purpose. David Cameron wants more social enterprises running public services as part of his “Big Society”.
However, this employer is no friend of workers. The website of the HCT group— CT Plus’s parent company—boasts about a turnover of £23.3 million last year. But workers at CT Plus remain some of the lowest paid drivers in London.
As one explained, “They’re making lots of money and winning new contracts for bus routes. We need to see a bit of it too.” Drivers get nothing extra for working weekends. “You might be getting up at 3am on a Sunday to work but it’s just the normal rate,” said a driver. “In fact, because Sunday’s a shorter shift than a normal day, you earn less.”
Derrick Campbell, the Unite union rep for Ash Grove depot, told Socialist Worker, “Profits are up, but the average salary rate has gone down. Management are trying to divide and rule.”
Despite refusing to make a decent pay offer, bosses are offering £30 a day extra to drivers to work during strikes and a £150 bonus for anyone who works over all four strikes. “Our strike ballot mandate means we can call more action after the days already planned,” said Derrick.