Thousands of bus workers in North London are due to strike tomorrow against poverty pay and attacks on terms and conditions. Strike action had initially been suspended for negotiations. But while management may have backed off from imposing changes on conditions they have refused to concede a pay rise and are once again asking workers to accept a “lump sum” payment.
Unite say that if the situation doesn’t change by 2013 then Arriva London North workers will have received no pay rise in 3 out of the 5 years from 2008, and been given 2 percent (less than inflation) twice. All this has been done in the name of keeping the company “competitive”. That’s what workers are being told across the bus industry and across Britain in general. Bosses and the government are telling us these are tough times and we all have to tighten our belts.
But its workers who get all the pain while the shareholders keep raking in the profits. In the first half of 2012 Arriva’s parent company, Deutsche Bahn, had operating profits of £1 billion. So maybe they can afford a few quid for a decent pay rise!
Despite negotiations and the union allowing a “cooling off period” the employers haven’t moved on a pay increase. Well, now is the time to make them move.Bus operators always insist right up to the last moment they can’t move on pay – and then they suddenly ‘find’ extra money down the back of the sofa – if workers apply enough pressure.
Remember that during the lead up to strikes over the London Olympic bonus earlier this year the bus operators, Transport for London and Boris Johnson all said the money wasn’t there. But once the strikes started they soon changed their minds. The action was so successful that many drivers believed a lot more could have been won.
Arriva London North workers do have the power to win this fight. But to make that happen, the union has to be prepared to escalate the strike action if the employers don’t shift.