Over 94 percent of bus drivers at Metroline in London rejected the company’s pay offer in a ballot on Friday of last week.
Metroline bosses were offering just 1.6 percent on basic pay – an increase of 18 pence an hour – and 4.26 percent on unsocial hours, holiday and sick pay.
One driver told Socialist Worker, “1.6 percent is a joke. It is way below the level of inflation.
“They offered us more than this as part of a two year deal that we rejected last year. We know they have the money.
“We are in the same situation as many other groups of workers – like post workers and nurses – fighting for a living wage.”
Pay is an urgent issue for bus workers. Workers in many bus companies are currently involved in a new round of pay negotiations.
This is one of the issues that was to be discussed this week when bus workers from different companies across London come together for the second full meeting of the T&G union’s London bus workers’ conference.
Pay is not just an issue in the big unionised London bus companies. “There is a rumble of anger among bus workers everyhere,” said a driver from Countryliner, a smaller non?unionised company based in Guildford, Surrey.
The company has recently imposed a pay rise of just 35 pence an hour, taking basic pay to only £7.85 an hour.
This was accompanied by changes in shifts and working patterns that leave some workers with 14 hour shifts.
A bus worker told Socialist Worker, “Drivers are completely exhausted.
“For many, the long shifts mean they don’t get to spend any time with their families for days at a time. And the pay is falling further and further behind rising costs of living.”
In Bristol, pay talks are currently under way between the T&G union and managers at First Bus.
One driver told Socialist Worker, “We haven’t had a decent pay rise for years. Pay currently starts on just £7.10 an hour.
“There is a growing anger among drivers.
“The pay talks come on the back of the dispute over the company issuing final written warnings to around a quarter of the workforce for allegedly running buses early.
“Some drivers still want to know why the union officials called off a strike ballot over this without consulting the members.
“Drivers feel that they have been treated very badly by First Bus and some of that anger will undoubtedly fuel the pay dispute.”