London bus strike: Workers to stage three 24-hour walkouts in February

Workers are striking over pay disparities between drivers

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The Independent Online

London bus staff plan to stage three 24-hour strikes as part of an ongoing pay dispute, unions have said.

The Unite union announced tonight that the walkouts will take place from 00:01 to 23:59 on 5, 13, and 16 February.

By taking part in industrial action, workers hope to see equal pay across the capital’s 18 bus operators.

Unlike London Underground Tube drivers who all receive the same rate, there are over 80 different pay rates covering London’s bus drivers, with some even driving the same route but receiving different wages. Drivers’ pay can differ by £3 per hour, from £9.30 to £12.34, a union spokesman said.

Unite is urging London’s bus operators to enter into talks to end the disparities.

The strike follows a 24-hour London-wide action in January, where 20,000 bus workers caused travel disruptions across the capital.

“We have been working tirelessly in our efforts to bring the employers to the table to discuss a solution to this dispute,” said Unite regional officer Wayne King.

“We firmly believe that there is a simple solution to be had but sadly the refusal by the operators to engage in collective talks is risking the inevitable disruption that strike action will bring to passengers.

“Bus passengers pay one fare, so why don’t bus drivers get paid the same rate for doing the same job?” King argued.

Mike Weston, TfL's director of buses, told BBC News: “I am very sorry that the leadership of Unite are threatening to further disrupt the journeys of bus passengers, especially given that only 16 per cent of the bus drivers voted for strike action.

”As in all professions, bus drivers have different levels of experience and it is only right that this can be reflected in pay.

“A 'levelling up' of pay to the highest rates would cost around £100 million a year.”