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As thousands of bus drivers walk out together...

London-wide strikes
have power to win
T

oday thousands of Unite members


at all 18 bus operators across
London are on the picket line.
This is a fight for every one of the
27,000 bus drivers who play such a
crucial role in keeping London moving.
The unions case is made even
stronger when the latest figures show
the bus companies making combined
profits of 171.7 million with
directors pay totalling at least 7.24
million a year.
The money is there to give every
driver a decent rate for the job.
And the latest survey shows that
the public agrees. Two thirds of
Londoners backed todays strike in a
poll carried out by the independent
survey company Mass 1.
Thats not surprising when its the
lowest paid workers who depend most
on bus services.

Collective

Unite is right to demand the


companies enter into collective
bargaining to end unequal pay across
the sector.
There are 80 different pay rates
across London and the disparity in
drivers pay can be over 3 an hour
depending on who they work for.
This just cant go on.
Todays strike will have a huge
impact. There will be overcrowding
on the tubes and trains. No transport
worker should agree to work if things
become unsafe.
Of course this dispute is not just
about pay. Its also about the conditions
drivers are forced to work under and
the issue of new starter rates.
Drivers now wait years to get on

Pickets at West Ham garage during a previous strike Photo: Guy Smallman

to the proper rate for the job. There


are different tiers of drivers at every
company doing the same job for
different rates.
There have been rumours that
if Unite is successful the action
could undermine pay for the most
experienced drivers. Thats just not true.
The union has made it clear that
the campaign is about enhancing pay
and conditions, not devaluing pay and
conditions.
This strike is in every drivers
interest. The race to the bottom on
the buses has to stop.

Bullying

For years wages have fallen, drivers


have faced bullying managers and
union reps have been targeted.
When workers have fought back
the companies have rushed to stop
action by going to the courts.
Whatever happens the employers
cant be allowed to use the anti-union
laws to derail this campaign.

Bus drivers have the power to take


on the bosses and win but it may well
take more than just one-day strikes.

Escalate

That means Unite has to be prepared


to escalate the strike action.
Just imagine the pressure a 48 hour
strike would put on the employers,
Transport for London and Tory
Mayor Boris Johnson.
Its crucial to fight back now.
The Tories are happy to see the race
to the bottom on London buses carry
on. But its also no good waiting for
Labour to save us.
Even if they are elected in May,
Ed Miliband has made it clear that
austerity, cuts and the squeeze on pay
will continue.
Todays strike is part of the wider
fightback against austerity. On 29
January over half a million health
workers will strike over pay, and they
Continued on back...

...continued from front

are set to strike again in February.


But the bosses and their mates in
Parliament and the media want to
divide the resistance to austerity.
Theyre playing the oldest game in
the book divide and rule. They want
us to blame migrant workers for the
decline of our living standards and
public services.
Nigel Farage and UKIP are the
most outspoken but the Tories arent
far behind. Too often Labour echoes
their racist lies when they should be
challenging them.
There is a danger in the wake of the
tragic events in Paris that the racists
will try to take advantage and intensify
the divide and rule rhetoric.
The best possible response to this
scapegoating is the kind of united
fightback were seeing on todays
picket lines.
The workers who drive Londons
buses come from all over the world.
Without migrants most of our public
services would collapse!
When we refuse to be divided, and
strike together we have the power to
win. London bus drivers have real
power. That was shown in the Olympic
bonus dispute in 2012. Its time to use
that power to win justice, respect and
one rate for the job across the capital.
National demonstration

Rage
against
racism

Stop the scapegoating of immigrants


No to Islamophobia Yes to diversity
No to anti-Semitism
Saturday 21 March, central London
Called by Stand up to Racism
Backed by Unite, Unison, PCS and UAF

Vote for a
fightback

Value for money?


T

ransport for London insists


there is nothing they can do about
drivers pay. They deflect the blame
onto the companies.
TfLs director of buses Mike Weston
says, pay and conditions are a matter
for those companies and the union to
discuss.
But bus bosses have ignored
repeated attempts by the union to
negotiate and it is TfL that allows the
companies to operate Londons buses.
Weston also claims the current
system of privatisation provides the
best value for money and allows the
bosses to determine the best terms
and conditions for workers.

Agreement

But the best solution would be for the


buses to be taken back into public
hands. In the here and now, the unions
demand equal pay and a single
agreement would be a huge step in the
right direction. And TfL is no bit player in
all this.
Bus operators compete for exclusive
contracts awarded by TfL on a route-byroute basis and receive an income from
TfL with bonuses and deductions made
for good and poor service performance.
The revenue from fares 1.26 billion
last year goes to TfL.
Companies turn a profit by reducing
costs, the biggest of which is workers
wages. This model of running Londons
bus ser vices is what has brought such
a huge disparity in pay as bosses
squeeze as much as they can get away
with.
Essentially TfL is subsidising the bus
companies. Over the first decade of this
century the net cost of Londons bus
services to TfL was over 3.5 billion
the difference between the subsidies

given and the revenue taken.


Over the same period bus company
shareholders dividends, for example at
Go-Ahead, totalled over 280 million.
Stagecoach shareholders were paid
nearly 420 million.
Meanwhile fares for passengers have
doubled in the last ten years.

Trousered

The people for whom this system is the


best value for money are the company
shareholders and directors who have
trousered billions in public money.
Over three quarters of London buses
are run by just four firms.
The biggest, Go Ahead, accounts for a
quarter of the London bus market alone.
Its profits rose by 19 percent last year
and the chief executives pay packet
more than doubled to almost 2 million.
Stagecoachs boss pocketed 2.2
million last year his firm controls 15
percent of the bus market in London
and it announced half-yearly profits of
123 million.
Bus companies can well afford equal
pay for Londons bus drivers. Although
Tory austerity cut subsidies by 20 percent,
London bus operators still received 830
million of public money in 2013-14.

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London bus strike 12/01/15