18 Dec 2014

London's bus drivers vote 85% for strikes

London’s bus drivers have overwhelmingly backed industrial action in a dispute over unfair pay disparities between the capital’s 18 bus operators, their union Unite announced today.
The vote in favour, which averaged 85 percent across the 18 companies, raises the prospect of a London wide bus strike in the new year if the operators refuse to enter talks about the formation of a single London wide agreement covering bus workers’ pay, terms and conditions. 

A widening pay gap
A refusal by the bus operators to address the issue has led to pay gaps of over £3 an hour for new starters opening up with pay varying from £9.30 to £12.34 an hour depending on the company. As well as strike action members also backed action short of a strike by 89 per cent.
Unite represents over 27,000 bus workers working for 18 bus companies who serve Greater London. These are: Arriva North, Arriva South, Selkent, London General, Metroline, Metroline West, Metrobus, CT Plus, London United, Abellio South, Abellio West, London Sovereign, Stagecoach, Blue Triangle, Northumberland Park, Tower Transit, Docklands and London Central.

15 Dec 2014

Arriva London strikes suspended for talks

Drivers at Arriva North and Arriva South buses in London were due to strike tomorrow over pay. This has now been suspended for talks at ACAS.

12 Dec 2014

Arriva London drivers to strike on Tuesday

On Tuesday 16 December over 3,000 Unite members at Arriva North and Arriva South buses in London are set to strike for 24 hours over pay. They were offered just 1.85 percent by the operator.
The vote for action was a massive 86 percent. Please come and show your support on the picket lines. Here is the list of garages: http://www.arrivalondon.com/ourgarages

This action follows recent pay settlements at London United (5 percent over 18 months), Stagecoach (2.5 percent) and London Sovereign (£700 lump sum for the first year and 4 percent for the second year)

3 Dec 2014

20,000 London bus drivers in strike vote over pay

Over 20,000 bus drivers across London’s 18 bus operators began voting today on whether to strike over pay disparities across the capital’s buses – in a campaign to secure a London-wide agreement covering pay, terms and conditions.
In contrast to London's metro drivers, there is not 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 disparities between drivers driving the same routes.
A refusal by the bus operators to address the issue has led to pay gaps of over £2 an hour for new starters opening up with pay varying from £9.30 to £11.46 an hour depending on the company.
The ballot of the members of Unite closes on Thursday 18 December, raising the possibility of strike action in the new year if London’s bus operators continue with their refusal to enter talks. A consultative ballot in November saw 96 per cent of members indicate they would be willing to strike.

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.”

29 May 2014

Brazil: wildcat strikes continue in four cities

Bus drivers demanding higher wages and better benefits have continued a partial strike in four Brazilian cities, including two host cities of the World Cup, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. Commuters experienced delays in both cities on Wednesday as about a third of bus drivers refused to work.
The ongoing strike was organized by a group of drivers who disagree with a recent deal struck between their union and their bus company.

Strike wave
Brazil has recently seen a series of protests and strikes for better wages and working conditions ahead of the World Cup and elections scheduled for October.
On May 26, Brazil’s national football team was forced to pass through 200 striking teachers when heading for the squad’s hilltop tournament training camp.

 Wasted billions
Hundreds of Brazilian protesters took to the streets of Sao Paulo on May 24 to express their anger at the huge expenses of the World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games to be hosted by the country.
Brazil’s police forces also went on strike in 14 states on May 21. Critics say the billions being spent on the sports event should be invested in better health, education services, transportation, and housing for Brazilians

21 May 2014

Sao Paulo: wild cat strike paralyses city

Bus drivers in Sao Paulo went on strike yesterday, surprising the sprawling Brazilian city by closing 15 of its 18 bus terminals and in some cases abandoning their vehicles in the middle of the street.
The strike is the latest to hit Brazil as it gears up to host the World Cup from 12 June to 13 July – and hold presidential and congressional elections in October.
The striking drivers are rebelling against their union, which agreed to a 10-percent pay increase in negotiations with management, according to newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo. The strikers were demanding 30 percent.
"This was news to me, these holdouts who don't accept the terms of the deal," said a surprised mayor Fernando Haddad. About 300 striking drivers and fare collectors marched to the mayor's office to demand a meeting with Haddad. Other drivers stopped their buses in the middle of the street and asked their passengers to get off, said newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo.
Sao Paulo, a city of 11 million people, will host the opening match of the World Cup in 23 days. Its 15,000 buses are a key part of its transit system.

15 May 2014

Stagecoach siblings become billionaires

Sir Brian Souter and Ann Gloag, the siblings who founded the Stagecoach transport empire, have become members of the billionaire club for the first time. They share a fortune of £1bn - an increase of £270m on last year, according to the 2014 Sunday Times Rich List.
The study found that Britain has more billionaires per head of population than any other country, while London's total of 72 sterling billionaires is more than any other city in the world. There are now 104 billionaires based in the UK with a combined wealth of more than £301bn.

Oxford: Stagecoach workers vote to strike

Unite drivers and engineers employed by Stagecoach are set to strike on Friday 30 May and Monday 2 June in a dispute over pay. The ballot closed on May 2 after negotiations with company bosses faltered.

14 Apr 2014

Vermont: strike wins key demands

On 3 April, bus drivers for the Chittenden County Transportation Authority in Vermont, USA, ended a three-and-a-half week strike with a 53-6 vote to ratify a new contract.
The agreement holds the line and more on the most important demands of the drivers, members of Teamsters Local 597. It also serves as a powerful demonstration that strikes can win when union members are united and strong – and when they have the support of community members who connect the strikers' issues to their own concerns.
The contract contains a 2 percent raise per year over the three-year contract. But drivers were most intent on pushing back management demands that would have created unsafe conditions on the job, shifted in the direction of a part-time labor force and handed over new tools to spy on and harass the drivers. On these questions, the drivers believe they won.

10 Apr 2014

Cambodia: strike wins concessions and inspires workers to form a union

All but two of 40 striking workers at Phnom Penh Sorya Transportation bus service are back on the job, workers and a company representative said on Monday.
Workers began striking last Thursday with a litany of demands, including a $60 monthly wage increase and an end to a company policy requiring employees to shoulder a fine of about $750 if caught transporting people or goods without a ticket.
During a three-hour negotiation session on Thursday, company manager Chan Sophanna agreed to end the $750 fine policy, leading all but two drivers to return to work on Saturday, said Sambath Vorn, one of the two remaining drivers on strike.
“Everyone went back to work on Saturday after the company promised to review our base salary every year,” said Vorn, adding that he and one other driver had yet to return because they were preparing documents to form a bus union.

31 Mar 2014

Johannesburg: indefinite strike over shifts

Drivers at Rea Vaya buses have started an indefinite strike this morning in a dispute over the shift system. The workers, who are members of the SAMWU union, want preference for shifts to be based on seniority. This is the fourth strike at the operator since it was created in August 2009.

18 Mar 2014

Stagecoach unhappy about democracy

Bus operator Stagecoach has fired a fresh broadside in its battle against North East local authorities – by demanding an official role in deciding transport policy for the region.
The bus company, which runs services across the region, has been locked in a bitter battle with the five Tyne and Wear councils, who want to seize control of bus services and set fares, routes and timetables.
Stagecoach says it will take legal action against the authorities if the plans go ahead, and has warned fares will rise.
Now the bus operator has also launched a second line of attack by asking MPs to give local transport businesses a seat on the board of the regional authorities making decisions.
Stagecoach has told a House of Commons inquiry that it should have representation on Local Transport Bodies in areas where it runs buses.

Buenos Aires: driver's murder prompts strike

Drivers walked out on Friday in Buenos Aires City and the surrounding province during a sudden strike called by most metropolitan bus lines. The protest was launched by the UTA union following the killing of a bus-driver, Leonardo Paz (22), in a robbery attempt while he was working the night shift. Nearly 200 bus lines were paralysed.
UTA spokeperson Roberto Fern├índez criticised the governor of the province, Daniel Scioli, for a lack of response to numerous demands voiced by the union for better security measures for bus drivers, especially during the night shift. “Provincial leaders are only dedicated to running for the presidency and ignore all issues concerning security conditions for workers”.

2 Mar 2014

Egypt: five-day transport strike wins key demands

Egypt’s public transport workers have resumed work as the last four garages out of 24 in Greater Cairo ended their strike on Friday, reports the state-owned Al-Ahram Arabic news website.
The workers at the Public Transport Authority (PTA) announced on Thursday they were ending the strike after the government promised to meet their financial demands.
According to Al-Ahram, the head of the PTA, along with Cairo’s governor, assured workers they would now be guaranteed the same rights as others in the public sector, as PTA would now fall either under the Cairo governorate or the Ministry of Transportation. Workers will also be paid a permanent monthly bonus worth LE200 ($28.7).
They struck for five days, demanding inclusion in the state's LE1200 ($172) minimum wage scheme and improvals to PTA's run-down fleet of 4,700 buses.

7 Feb 2014

First Hampshire & Dorset will strike again on Monday

Drivers employed by First Hampshire and Dorset have rejected the company's latest pay offer and will go on strike for 24 hours on Monday 10 February, from 4.30am. Services in the Bridport, Portland and Weymouth area will be affected.
Around 60 drivers, who are members of Unite, voted to reject the offer as there were too many strings attached, which would have meant a reduction to their terms and conditions.Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said, "The crux of this dispute is that our members are lagging behind the pay of their counterparts working for other regional bus operators, at a time when household bills are going through the roof."

4 Feb 2014

Hertfordshire: strike threats win improved offer

Bus drivers threatening to strike in and around Welwyn Hatfield have accepted a new pay offer from the University of Hertfordshire. Before Christmas, drivers working for the Uno bus company, which reports to the university board, voted to reject two consecutive pay offers.
With the dispute aggravated by complaints about outdated and over-stretched vehicles, members of Unite were prepared to strike, but they accepted a fresh offer last week.
Regional Unite officer Steve Linger said: “The bus drivers, who number just under 200, have voted overwhelmingly by a margin of 78 per cent to accept the company’s latest offer. There will be no further industrial action... The deal is complicated, but it basically takes the drivers to £12 an hour, with some additional improvements, including a match-funded pension arrangement.”

23 Jan 2014

First Dorset: strike well supported, but managers drafted in to scab

Drivers may follow up Monday's 24-hour strike in Weymouth and Bridport with another one next Wednesday. The dispute centres on the pay of the drivers, currently on £8.30 an hour, compared with their regional colleagues, such as drivers at Yellow Buses in Bournemouth who earn more than £10 an hour. Drivers also want the time spent behind the wheel in one sitting reduced from 5.5 hours.
Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said he was pleased with how the strike was carried out. He said: “We had a lot of people cheering and waving as they were driving by... There was even stronger support in Bridport and I think overall virtually every single one of our members joined the strike."
Mr Lanning said further strikes and other industrial action could take place if the company was not prepared to ‘come to the table’. He added: “If this does not work then we will be back out on Wednesday, 29 January."
Staff, including managers and supervisors, were drafted in from across Dorset, Hampshire and Berkshire to drive the buses during Monday's strike.
As a result, management claim that services were largely unaffected.

14 Jan 2014

Dorset: First drivers to strike over pay next week

Bus services around Weymouth, Portland and west Dorset could be crippled next week due to a drivers’ strike. Members of Unite who work for First, are planning a 24-hour walkout on Monday 20 January due to a row over pay. It will affect the Weymouth and Bridport depots.
But one driver said that although school and colleges services would be provided, other passenger routes would be severely hit. “It’s going to be absolute murder,” he said. “We don’t want to do it but we have been forced into action... Our pay is well below those who work at the Yeovil depot which we think is unfair.”
The driver claimed the company had offered a small amount of extra money but claimed that holidays would be affected by the deal. He said the action would begin early on Monday and continue for 24 hours. Picket lines will be in place at the depots.

From the Unite press release:
About 60 drivers at First Hampshire and Dorset will strike on Monday in a dispute which has seen their pay fall dramatically behind their regional counterparts. 

The dispute centres on the pay of the drivers, currently on £8.30 an hour, compared with their regional colleagues, such as drivers on Yellow Buses in Bournemouth who earn more £10 an hour. 

The management has offered 1.5 per cent for April 2013-April 2014 which would take the pay to £8.50 an hour – however, the company wants to claw back that rise by eroding terms and conditions, such as reduced sick pay, so the deal is self-financing. 

Moving the goalposts
Unite, the country’s largest union which represents the drivers, said that the deal now on the table offered no back pay and management also wanted to start the pay year on 1 July which was ‘moving the goalposts’ by three months. 

Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said: “Our members are some of the lowest paid bus drivers in the country – 30 miles away in Bournemouth Yellow Buses’ drivers are receiving more than £10 an hour. They would like £9.00 an hour, without any strings attached... This is the first time that our members have gone on strike for 12 years at this company. They are being pushed against the wall financially by the cost of living crisis, which has seen household bills soar."