Unite accuses bus companies of trying to undermine dispute

London busUnite today accused Transport for London (TfL) bosses of undermining efforts to resolve the London bus dispute as drivers take part in the first of three scheduled strikes this month.

Up to 27,000 bus workers working for London’s 18 bus operators are taking action to end pay inequality and secure one collective agreement for pay and conditions.

But TfL yesterday released a statement accusing Unite of refusing to engage with bus companies individually by demanding to meet collectively. “There is doubt that such a meeting is even legal,” it said.

Unite responded by saying the transport body was ‘failing’ passengers with ‘misleading’ comments that ‘blew a hole’ in the pretence that it was neutral in the dispute.

Unite regional officer Wayne King said: “TfL should be playing a constructive role in facilitating a resolution to the dispute with London’s 18 bus operators, who despite our tireless efforts over two years are refusing to talk collectively about ending pay inequality.

“Instead TfL is seeking to inflame the situation and undermine hopes of resolving the dispute with misinformed and misleading comments.

“All we are asking for is a collective forum to discuss how we can end pay disparities over a sensible timeframe.

“To suggest this is unlawful is misinformed and to suggest fares may rise when the capital’s bus operators are making combined profits of £171.7 million per year is misleading. TfL’s interference is failing passengers and the men and women who keep London’s buses on the road.

“The current situation is unsustainable. Just as you wouldn’t employ police officers on different rates of pay across London neither should you with bus drivers.

“Our members know it as do passengers, that’s why two thirds think London’s bus drivers should be paid the same for doing the same work.

“Passengers should also be clear that this isn’t a political dispute, it’s an industrial one. TfL with its continuing meddling seem to want to take this away from being a straightforward industrial dispute between bus drivers and their employers and turn it into a political football.

“TfL should either take a constructive role or keep out of it and let the operators speak for themselves.”

In contrast to Tube drivers, there isn’t one collective pay deal for bus drivers in the capital, whose pay is currently negotiated on a company by company.

There are hundreds of different pay rates covering London’s bus drivers, doing the same job, even driving the same route but for different rates of pay.

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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