London bus drivers poised for strike action
photo Graham Richardson/CC (Click to enlarge)
The Unite union is in the process of preparing to formally ballot all its bus drivers employed by Singapore-owned Metroline in a dispute over 'remote signing on'.
Unite describes this as a huge "experiment with the capital's vital transport system", and designed for profits not passengers.
Affected workers have described the proposals as a massive "slap in the face" to drivers who are still recovering from the pandemic in which 29 drivers died, and many more are still unable to return to work due to the debilitating effects of the illness.
Unite represents more than 4,000 drivers at the company (16% of all London bus drivers), which dominates routes in the north and the west of London.
By introducing remote signing on, drivers would not report to a depot but would meet their bus and begin work at a location such as a bus stop.
Unite is opposed to remote signing on because of the following:
- Safety. There will be no checks to ensure the driver is fit and well to drive a bus
- Lack of access to toilet facilities, rest and canteen facilities
- Drivers will be forced to wait for their bus to arrive in all weathers, potentially harming their health and ability to drive a bus over a long shift
- Greater risk of exposure to Covid-19 in travelling to a location which has not been subject to the risk assessment and health measures
- Increase in the dangers of fatigue as drivers will be subjected to higher travelling time
- The lack of a back-up. If a driver is delayed or a bus is not operational, then at a depot there is always alternative options to provide passenger transport
In a consultative ballot at both Metroline companies, Unite members recorded a 99.2% vote in favour of industrial action at Metroline West and 97.8% at Metroline Travel.
Unite is now in the process of organising a full industrial action ballot, and if a settlement isn't reached strikes could begin this autumn.
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The Socialist 2 September 2020 |
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