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From: The Socialist issue 982, 14 February 2018: We can win the fight for the NHS

Search site for keywords: London - Unite - Buses - Public transport

Sadiq Khan's bus drivers' London licence doesn't go far enough

London bus workers demonstration outside City Hall 14 September 2017, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson

London bus workers demonstration outside City Hall 14 September 2017, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Mo, London bus driver

London bus drivers held strikes across London three years ago demanding a single pay structure across various bus companies. There were - and still are - many different rates both between and within private operating companies. We demanded one London-wide pay structure. After two days of strikes, the action was suspended.

Labour's Sadiq Khan spoke to London bus workers when he stood for London mayor and promised - if elected - to deliver strikers' demands through negotiations. He also promised a 'Passport for London' where bus drivers would no longer have to go back to a starter rate if changing companies.

A majority of Unite the Union reps decided to support him because of his promises. Although, some of us wanted to rely on industrial strength rather than politicians promises.

After Khan was elected he announced in December 2016 the minimum starter rate of 23,000 a year for all new London drivers. Bus workers pointed out that some companies were already paying that because they could not attract workers for less!

He announced a 'License for London' which should start "no later than April 2017". He said: "From now on drivers can start at a new company at a pay grade equivalent to their level of service and experience".

Drivers understood this to be a temporary step until a London-wide structure could be implemented.

In reality, the License for London didn't start until January 2018. It did not guarantee a driver to be accepted at their new chosen company and has complicated eligibility requirements with an application process.

Meanwhile, London bus drivers have not heard about the London-wide pay structure.

The concessions we've won are a direct result of our industrial action. Unite intends to consult the drivers to resume our industrial action if Khan does not fulfil his promises.

The Socialist Party demands that London's buses and all public transport be run under democratic public control and ownership.

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The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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Article dated 14 February 2018

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