By Rob Owen
A strike by bus workers in the Unite union shut down the Abellio garage in Byfleet, Surrey, this morning. The workers walked out over plans by the company to freeze their pay. Last minute negotiations at Acas failed to reach a resolution. Abellio refused to make the workers an offer above 1.5 percent. The union is holding on for a 4 percent pay rise. But for many of the drivers on the picket line the issues around the strike run deeper.
Abellio claims the byfleet depot is losing money, despite the company making millions in profit last year. Extra layers of management have been added to “oversee” the garage. They are proposing cuts that could see drivers losing up to £80 a week.
There are also fears that the company is using its Surrey operation as a test case. If its pay freeze succeeds here it could roll it out to its other London garages. One Unite rep described what was going on as “legalised robbery”.
When it was announced that management had received a 7 percent pay rise one worker shouted out “We should demand 7 percent too!” to nods from the crowd. Over 30 workers joined the 6am picket line in a near-solid strike. Some 120 workers are based at the garage.
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