London bus drivers to strike over 'pitiful' pay offers made during Covid pandemic

9 February 2021, 11:56 | Updated: 9 February 2021, 13:52

London bus drivers will stage a strike later this month over pay and conditions
London bus drivers will stage a strike later this month over pay and conditions. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

London bus drivers will stage a series of strikes across the capital later this month over "pitiful" pay offers made to them during the coronavirus pandemic.

Members of Unite across the city will walk out from 22 February in disputes with French-owned company RATP over both pay and conditions.

The union accused the firm, which operates three subsidiaries in the London bus network, of "using the Covid-19 pandemic to attack the terms and conditions of the drivers at the London United subsidiary".

Nearly 2,000 bus drivers are said to be involved in the dispute.

A spokesperson for Unite said RATP's proposed contracts will leave workers £2,500 worse off and being expected to work longer hours.

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They also claimed the French company is threatening to introduce zero-hour-style contracts that would see drivers paid only for the time spend behind the wheel, rather than when they are actually at work.

Staff at London United, which provides bus services in south and west London, will take strike action on 22, 23 and 24 February.

Meanwhile, drivers based at a depot in Epsom, Surrey, will strike on 22 and 23 February, and Unite members in north-west London, will walk out on 22 February.

Workers at Quality Line in Epsom earn £2.50 an hour less than drivers at RATP’s other subsidiaries and have been offered a "derisory" pay offer of 0.5 per cent (seven pence an hour), the Unite spokesperson said.

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The union warned that further strikes will be announced if swift resolutions to the disputes are not quickly found.

Unite regional officer Michelle Braveboy said: "RATP is guilty of using the cover of the pandemic to force through attacks on terms and conditions and table pitiful pay offers."

She added: “Workers are taking industrial action as a last resort as the company has refused to listen to reason and continue with the negotiations.

“They understand that bus strikes will cause huge disruption to the general public but believe they have no choice but to defend terms and conditions and ensure a fair pay offer."

LBC has approached RAPT for comment.

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