With drivers at Stamford Brook and Hounslow Heath voting to join industrial action against a real-terms pay cut, the company is facing serious trouble in South and West London.
The row has been rumbling on since 2019, when London United, a subsidiary of transport giant Ratp which is contracted to TfL for routes across large parts of the city, started lowballing on pay offers to drivers on its fleet of around 800 buses.
In the midst of negotiations the Covid-19 crisis forced emergency measures to be implemented, and bus drivers have since been hard hit by the crisis with 51 having died as of last month, a rate three times’ higher than the national average.
But with the “re-opening of Britain” in full flow and the numbers of bus journeys set to spike, the key workers are now being told to accept a real-terms pay cut alongside a new slate of contract clauses, aimed at boosting profits for Rapt – which recently bumped pay for its chief executive Christine Chardon from £196,000 to £363,000.
On the picket line last week striking driver Keith said:
We haven’t had a payrise since … 18. 2018. We tried to get a pay rise before the virus, two point something, then when the corona come they pulled out of it, said they don’t have the money etc. So all the other companies they had their payrises, but we’re still fighting for our pay rise. Because I think it’s wrong. I mean we’re on the front line every day.
Drivers at five depots, Fulwell, Hounslow, Park Royal, Shepherd’s Bush and Tolworth, have been striking over the last month and have seen strong community backing, with Hounslow strikers noting in particular the support they have received from The Open Kitchen.
The original five will be striking again on April 7th and 14th, with Stamford Brook and Hounslow Heath able to join from the 15th onwards.
The strike in London is also being mirrored in Manchester by an attack from Go North West against its nearly 500 drivers, who are being threatened with fire and rehire, using the threat of 10% job losses to impose wage cuts and onerous new working conditions. Drivers have now been striking on the routes for more than five weeks.