TfL urges union to call off unnecessary bus strikes

04 February 2015

Transport for London (TfL) has today published an open letter from Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport, to Londoners and commuters explaining why the three London-wide bus strikes called by Unite the Union (Unite) are totally unnecessary.

The threatened strikes, which are due to take place on Thursday 5 February, Friday 13 February and Monday 16 February, are the result of a dispute Unite has with London's bus companies.

Bus drivers are employed by the individual (private) bus companies and have been for over 20 years. Bus driver rates of pay have been negotiated and agreed between Unite and the bus companies individually under a long-standing and jointly agreed process. This has regularly resulted in pay rises above the rate of inflation.

Unite is now demanding that all drivers be paid precisely the same amount.

Bus companies pay a range of rates to reflect length of service and differing levels of knowledge and experience. Some drivers do not work late or at weekends, whereas others do. And some drive large double deck buses while others drive small single deck buses - requiring a different set of skills. Unite's demands could mean that drivers have to work on days and at times they currently don't have to.

Each bus company has offered to meet Unite individually to try and resolve this dispute. Unite has refused to engage with them and has instead demanded that all the bus companies meet with them collectively to set a rate of pay covering the whole industry. There is doubt that such a meeting is even legal.

The most worrying thing of all is that the additional costs of paying a uniform rate to all bus drivers would inevitably mean higher fares and reduced services for passengers and fewer jobs for drivers.

This dispute, in which only 16 per cent of bus drivers voted for strike action, will achieve nothing except further inconvenience to London's 6.5 million daily bus passengers.

TfL urges Unite to return to discussions with the individual bus companies to resolve this dispute without further disruption to London.